The White House is holding steady at a $150 million budget request for the Technology Modernization Fund in President Trump’s fiscal year 2021 proposal released Monday.
This follows a trend of appropriators granting the fund significantly less than asked for. The White House requested $220 million in 2018, the fund’s inaugural year, and ended up with $100 million. In fiscal 2019 it requested $228 million and got $25 million.
The TMF, which is housed within the General Services Administration and overseen by both GSA and the Office of Management and Budget, gives agencies money for long-term IT modernization projects. Thus far the TMF has awarded a total of $90 million to seven distinct projects— two at both the U.S. Department of Agriculture, General Services Administration, and one apiece at the departments of Energy, Housing and Urban Development, and Labor. The agencies are required to repay the fund with the savings they accrue due to modernization.
While the TMF enjoys bipartisan support, there has been some skepticism about it among appropriators.
The Government Accountability Office also expressed some doubts in a December 2019 report on whether the modernization projects will really save agencies as much money as they expect and thus whether the TMF will be able to collect fees to cover its own administrative costs. The fund’s program management office has spent $1.2 million and collected only $33,165, the report said. At this rate, the watchdog said, the TMF won’t recover its costs until 2025.