The government will use a “balanced approach” when setting Technology Modernization Fund (TMF) repayment terms with agencies, Sonny Hashmi, commissioner of the Federal Acquisition Service, told The Daily Scoop Podcast on Thursday.
Though he couldn’t speak to the individual agreements reached awarding $311 million across seven projects announced Thursday, terms were approved by the agencies themselves, reviewed by the TMF Board, and signed off on by the General Services Administration administrator and Office of Management and Budget director.
Strict repayment terms previously dissuaded some agencies from applying for TMF funds, which usually must be paid back within five years, so the TMF Board has promised more flexibility where appropriate.
“As we announced a few months ago, our focus as we move forward with the TMF is going to be to find the right balance between creating business value for the American people and making sure that the fund stays solvent,” Hashmi said. “And there are many paths to making that happen.”
The TMF Board developed a “comprehensive” set of methods to determine where investments are necessary, even if cost savings aren’t likely because a particular agency is improving citizen outcomes or its cybersecurity posture, he added.
In previously-announced guidelines for the distribution of $1 billion in funding provided through the American Rescue Plan, the board said it would invest in projects with varying levels of repayment flexibility ranging from full repayment to minimal repayment.
In investing TMF funds where they were needed most, the board approved three projects advancing zero-trust security to combat emerging cyber threats at the Department of Education, GSA and Office of Personnel Management.
“Each of those we look at to be an exemplar agency to help not only move their own internal system toward zero trust but use those lessons learned … to help other agencies move forward also,” said Sean Connelly, Trusted Internet Connections program manager and a member of the TMF Board, during an ATARC event Thursday.