The Technology Modernization Fund Project Management Office spent the last year getting its technical experts more involved in agencies’ projects post-award, according to Executive Director Raylene Yung.
Subject matter experts in customer experience (CX), cybersecurity, procurement, acquisition, and financial operations not only review TMF funding applications now but answer agencies’ questions throughout the entire project life cycle.
The project management office (PMO) began fostering TMF microcosms around specific project types, beginning with the first awards of the $1 billion injected into the fund by the American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act passed in March 2021.
“We see ourselves as ideally an extension of the agency,” Yung told the Daily Scoop Podcast. “So if they’re running into challenges, they have questions about customer experience or user research or procurement or acquisition, either we can provide that support or connect them to resources that can help them.”
The three agencies running zero-trust security projects the TMF Board funded in the fall meet regularly as a cohort, and the PMO is sharing other awardees’ best practices through information repositories and holding office hours.
An “expression of interest” form allowing agencies to more quickly submit ideas to the PMO was introduced with the announcement $100 million in TMF funds would be designated for high-impact service providers with innovative CX projects, Yung said. The decision to earmark TMF funds for the first time was partially inspired by the CX Executive Order issued in November and the second pillar of the President’s Management Agenda.
“We felt that it was important to focus some of the funding that is available under the TMF under the American Rescue Plan specifically on making sure we’re delivering tools that work for all Americans,” said Clare Martorana, federal chief information officer. “This is a bit of a pilot for us.”
Yung hopes to award all of the ARP funding by year’s end with about half of the $1 billion already invested and projects worth hundreds of millions more currently being evaluated.
Initial project proposals for the ARP funding felt “a bit hurried” and lacked customer partnerships, but more recent proposals show signs of proper staffing, executive support and the ability to rapidly prototype, Martorana said.
The PMO now monitors project metrics like time saved and workflows improved.
Just because the Government Accountability Office backed the TMF Board’s decision to require only partial or minimal funding reimbursement from some agencies doesn’t mean fund solvency isn’t top of mind for officials. Repayment typically begins 12 months after the first transfer of funds, released incrementally to avoid frontloading projects.
Of the 11 initial projects to receive TMF funding, two agencies — the U.S. Department of Agriculture and General Services Administration — reimbursed the fund, and five others completed their projects and are in the process of reimbursement.
“Repayment is critical,” Martorana said.