White House budget calls for $210M for IT modernization fund

(Ted Eytan / Flickr)

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As expected, President Donald Trump’s fiscal 2019 budget request proposes increased spending for IT, with an emphasis on modernization efforts.

The budget plan, unveiled Monday, seeks $45.8 billion in overall civilian IT funding for next year, up just slightly from the estimated $45.6 billion spent in fiscal 2018. In an analysis of proposed IT spending, the administration notably left out a breakdown of Defense Department IT for the coming year, which equated to $42.5 billion in fiscal 2018.

The new request includes $210 million for the Technology Modernization Fund — a revolving central repository for agency IT upgrades that will be managed by the General Services Administration. That’s down from the $228 million the administration requested in fiscal 2018. (The budget documents do not estimate what actually will be spent on the fund in fiscal 2018.) The passage of the Modernizing Government Technology Act last December codified the fund and directed the GSA to administer it in collaboration with the Office of Management and Budget, with recommendations from an interagency TMF board.

The 2019 plan notes that the $210 million would “complement any initial seed funding provided in fiscal 2018, when discretionary appropriations are finalized.”

“As funding is allocated to priority agency projects across the Federal Government, it is subsequently replenished by agency repayments to the Fund for amounts transferred, including the cost of any services or work performed related to the administration of the Fund, ensuring that the TMF is self-sustaining and can continue to support modernization projects well beyond the initial infusion of capital,” the document explains.

An estimated $167 million in TMF funding would go toward equipment procurement, with the remainder going to advisory services and acquiring other federal services.

“Ultimately, retiring or modernizing vulnerable and inefficient legacy IT systems will not only make agencies more secure, it will also save money,” OMB officials said in the report. “Absent immediate action, the cost to operate and maintain legacy systems will continue to grow, while security vulnerabilities and other risks will remain unresolved.”

Despite the new fund, legacy IT will again dominate the bulk of the year’s technology spend, accounting for 80 percent of the requested funding.

According to top-line analysis in the request, the Department of Homeland Security would see the most IT spending by a civilian agency, with its $6.8 billion budget accounting for 15 percent of total IT spend. The departments of Health and Human Services and Treasury follow with 12 and 10 percent of IT spend, respectively.

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budget, General Services Administration, IT Modernization, IT Modernization Fund, Office of Management and Budget (OMB), Technology Modernization Fund, White House