A draft version of the 2020 appropriations bill released by the House Appropriations Committee on Sunday would allocate $35 million for the Technology Modernization Fund.
If enacted, this funding level would represent a huge cut from the $150 million that the White House has requested. It would, however, be a bump up from what the TMF got in fiscal 2019. The money would remain available until used.
The TMF, a central funding pot that loans money to federal agencies for IT modernization projects, was created by the Modernizing Government Technology Act, which President Trump signed into law in December 2017. The fund was launched with $100 million in fiscal 2018 and received another $25 million in fiscal 2019.
While the TMF has broad bipartisan support, appropriators have historically been a little skeptical. “We’ve not seen results from that program yet and we don’t have any data on it,” Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., chairman of the Financial Services and General Government Subcommittee, said during the 2019 appropriations debate. Supporters, meanwhile, argue that the fund is a vital mechanism for supporting large-scale tech modernization in government.
Since its inception, the TMF’s seven-person board has given out a total of $90 million in funding to seven distinct projects — two projects at each the U.S. Department of Agriculture, General Services Administration, and one apiece at the departments of Energy, Housing and Urban Development, and Labor.