Consumer protection systems operated by the Department of Transportation and Federal Trade Commission will receive just over $9 million in combined funding from the General Services Administration-led Technology Modernization Fund.
The new investments, announced Friday, will provide $8 million to the DOT for the modernization of an outdated consumer complaint system for air travelers and $1.1 million to the FTC to retire and replace an old system that tracks information about textile products.
“Our newest investment in the FTC represents the kind of speed of delivery we aim to achieve, because the problem and solution are well understood and the FTC team is ready to make changes within the next 12 months. Additionally, our investment in DOT will help improve a system accessed by thousands of air travelers each year,” TMF Executive Director Raylene Yung said in a Friday statement.
The TMF, housed within GSA, is focused on improving technology across the government and currently manages 47 investments in 27 federal agencies. It received a $1 billion infusion through the American Rescue Plan and $255 million through the annual budget process. Previous investments included a $50.5 million round of funding for cybersecurity and customer experience investments at five agencies in July and $20.8 million for similar projects at three agencies in October 2022.
The House Oversight Committee recently advanced a bipartisan bill that would extend the TMF’s authorization through 2030 and would require agencies to refund or reimburse investments to maintain the solvency of the fund.
The DOT investment will specifically go to the Office of Aviation Consumer Protection (OACP), which will use the funds to enhance a system that tracks consumer complaints and tracks cases for “thousands of consumers each year,” according to a release.
Blane Workies, OACP’s assistant general counsel, said in a release that the modernized system will “make it easier for consumers to know their rights and file air travel service complaints should problems occur, while enhancing OACP’s ability to analyze these complaints and enforce aviation civil rights and consumer protection laws.”
Meanwhile, FTC’s project is focused on its system that issues “registration numbers to U.S. based businesses to identify who manufactured, imported, distributed, or sold a covered textile, fur, or wool product.” The TMF funds will be used to “modernize the Registration Number System by developing a user-friendly cloud application.”
Mark Gray, FTC’s chief information officer, said in a release that completion of the project would “mark a critical milestone – all FTC applications accepting incoming traffic will have been migrated to the cloud.” Gray said the funding will improve the agency’s security and move it closer to its “zero trust” goals, which has been a focus of the Biden administration.