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03/25/2020
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TMF could get $3B in emergency funding

The Technology Modernization Fund, which has struggled to get money from appropriators in recent years, could get $3 billion in emergency funding as part of a larger supplemental appropriations package proposed in the House for coronavirus response. Under the bill, agencies could apply for funds to use through fiscal 2022 specifically for “technology-related modernization activities to prevent, prepare for, and respond to coronavirus.” If any of the money isn’t used by the end of September 2022, it would expire. The legislation differs from the package that Senate Democrats and Trump administration officials have been negotiating this week, but it’s possible the House proposal could influence that measure. Billy Mitchell has more on the TMF injection.


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Inside the House's COVID response appropriations

The larger $2.5 trillion House appropriations package has several other cases where lawmakers are hoping to send money to agencies for emergency IT and telework support during the coronavirus pandemic. Many agencies have struggled with the strain brought on by a policy of “maximum teleworking.” The bill indicates that the government needs billions of dollars more in IT and cybersecurity services to meet the demand. For instance, the Department of Veterans Affairs would receive $3 billion to support telehealth, telework and other IT systems under thee bill. The Social Security Administration would have $300 million of coronavirus-related impact relief, including teleworking, “phone communications services” and overtime pay. And of the $2.3 billion proposed for FEMA, $45 million would go to "facilities and information technology." Jackson Barnett takes a deeper dive into the bill.


Lawmakers push for remote voting

The need for lawmakers to be able to vote remotely is more apparent than ever as the coronavirus continues to spread and several members of Congress have self-quarantined. Legislation is circulating in both chambers currently that would temporarily change the rules to permit remote voting. Reps. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., Katie Porter, D-Calif., and 65 other signatories sent a letter to the House Rules Committee on Monday requesting the change during national emergencies. They say the move would be “consistent” with what local governments, industry, academia and nonprofits are doing to limit the spread of COVID-19. And on the Senate side, Sens. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, and Dick Durbin, D-Ill., introduced a resolution to similarly amend the rules to allow remote voting during a national crisis. Dave Nyczepir has more from the Hill.


AWS says DOD is gerrymandering JEDI

Amazon is not buying the Pentagon's motion to take a narrow corrective action on the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) cloud contract. The company called the Department of Defense's recent voluntary motion to remand the case for 120 days and re-evaluate parts of the contract an attempt to “gerrymander” the acquisition in Microsoft’s favor once again. “The corrective action DoD proposes fails the tests of rationality and fairness, violates the broad discretion afforded an agency for addressing a procurement impropriety, and suggests that DoD seeks to take whatever corrective action is necessary to reaffirm its prior award to Microsoft despite the material defects the Court identified and DoD has now acknowledged,” says the filing. Billy has more from Amazon's latest filing.


OMB tells agencies to lean on tech during coronavirus

The White House is imploring agencies to expand their use of technology to get through these trying times. Margaret Weichert, deputy director for management in the Office of Management and Budget, wrote in a new guidance over the weekend that agencies should "utilize technology to the greatest extent practicable to support mission continuity." That includes directing agencies to update their .gov websites and virtual private networks, revisit identity and access management policies, and lean on collaboration and electronic signature platforms to keep the workforce connected and productive. "By aggressively embracing technology to support business processes, the Federal Government is better positioned to maintain the safety and well-being of the Federal workforce and the American public while supporting the continued delivery of vital mission services,” states the memo. Jackson has more from the memo.


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