OPM pushes for IT modernization working capital fund

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The Office of Personnel Management says it supports the idea of starting a working capital fund to finance its backlog of necessary IT modernization projects if given congressional approval.

To jumpstart its modernization efforts, OPM needs more funding from Congress and authorized flexibilities to support such multi-year projects in the form of a working capital fund, senior agency leaders commented Monday in response to a recent National Academy of Public Administration study on a possible OPM reorganization.

NAPA recommended in its congressionally mandated March report that OPM focus on glaring IT inadequacies, while also concluding that OPM should remain an independent agency and not be folded into the General Services Administration, as proposed by the Trump administration. OPM is building NAPA’s recommendations into its fiscal 2022-2026 four-year strategic plan, it says in the response.

“OPM is committed to the policy changes and investments necessary to strengthen OPM’s role as the strategic human capital leader for the Federal Government,” OPM Director Kiran Ahuja wrote in her opening to the comments.

In its report, NAPA called on OPM to “modernize the [electronic Official Personnel Folder platform] and develop an employee digital record, upgrade technology systems supporting the federal retirement programs, enable a modern human capital data and analytics platform, and transform its website to be both user-centric and user-friendly.”

OPM said that not only will it “prioritize IT modernization and seek funding from Congress” for those stated projects — calling it a “top agency requirement” that requires “substantial resources to fully implement” — but it will also look to Congress for “dedicated funding to be used for specific, major OPM IT modernization projects” and the authority to establish a working capital fund. Both of those efforts, OPM says, are contingent on developing a roadmap for IT spending and “the completion of an enterprise-wide IT requirements and cost analysis to enable a more flexible and accountable internal process for funding IT operations and maintenance.”

In addition, OPM said it will look to the governmentwide Technology Modernization Fund to support its modernization efforts as well.

OPM also outlined other strategies to modernize IT systems, including improving governance, upskilling the workforce, evaluating systems for risk, expanding use of cloud technology and improving its collection and stewardship of federal personnel data.

The Modernizing Government Technology Act of 2017, which created the TMF, called for agencies to institute their own IT working capital funds, but few have done so since then, largely because of a lack of congressional authorization or hangups with their CFO colleagues or appropriators.

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IT Modernization, Kiran Ahuja, NAPA, Office of Personnel Management (OPM), working capital funds
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