Lawmakers want to know what IT improvements the Biden administration is planning with the $1 billion recently injected into the Technology Modernization Fund, according to a letter sent by five Democratic members of the House Oversight Government Operations Subcommittee on Tuesday.
The letter asks the Office of Management and Budget, General Services Administration, and TMF Board to submit a spending plan to Congress for the funds appropriated in the American Rescue Plan Act, as well as for partial repayment by agencies.
TMF spending is perhaps the fastest way to invest in critical IT and cybersecurity projects across government. But agencies are expected to pay the money back within five years so the fund remains self-sustaining, which is an “unduly burdensome” ask on “inherently riskier projects,” according to industry.
“To ensure the most immediate and effective investment of the $1 billion TMF appropriation, we understood that the reimbursement model would need to be relaxed in the American Rescue Plan,” reads the letter from Democrats. “Although that requirement could not be retained in the budget reconciliation process, we strongly urge the administration not to let the reimbursement model atrophy during the expenditure of the investment made by the American Rescue Plan.”
Reps. Gerry Connolly, Va.; Carolyn Maloney, N.Y.; Eleanor Holmes Norton, Washington, D.C.; Katie Porter, Calif.; and Jamie Raskin, Md., further want to know:
- how the TMF Program Management Office will scale to handle increased project proposals from agencies,
- how the TMF Board will encourage proposals from the agencies most in need;
- TMF Board proposal priorities;
- OMB timetables for agencies that can repay TMF funds on time; and
- criteria for measuring project success when timely repayment isn’t expected.
The subcommittee wants an OMB and GSA briefing on the plan no later than May 7. And the letter comes a day after GSA told FedScoop its offices will frictionlessly lend technical and acquisition expertise to agencies receiving TMF funds, albeit without naming specific projects likely to see investment.
“We look forward to working with you to ensure this funding catalyzes the transformative IT investments the federal government so desperately needs to better serve this nation at a most critical time,” reads the letter.