Senate spending bill doesn’t include TMF funding
The Senate Appropriations subcommittee that handles general government operations advanced a version of its fiscal 2020 spending bill without any money for the Technology Modernization Fund.
That came in spite of appeals from Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., who spoke in favor of the revolving IT investment fund during a markup session Tuesday. “The federal government spends annually $80 billion in information technology, and 75% of that money goes to old legacy systems that are outdated, antiquated, they’re vulnerable and they’re unsupported,” he said. “And no agency ever seems to have the money to pay for updating their IT.”
“This is an investment, not an expenditure,” Moran added.
He encouraged the full Appropriations Committee to consider reinstating TMF. Moran was a Senate sponsor of the Modernizing Government Technology Act, which created the TMF.
In March, the White House budget proposed $150 million for TMF. The House version of the 2020 Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Act, which passed in June, proposes cutting it to $35 million.
In fiscal 2018 the TMF received $100 million, and in fiscal 2019 it got an additional $25 million. Supporters argue that the money, which recipient agencies pay back over five years, helps agencies work on large-scale modernization projects. Thus far the fund 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.
However, there has been some skepticism about it among appropriators, and this isn’t the first time the Senate has threated to defund the program. Some in Congress have argued, for example, that the TMF’s board should be more transparent about its process. The seven-member board, which decides which projects receive funding, includes Federal CIO Suzette Kent.
The full committee markup is scheduled for Thursday.