White House pledges support to spending bill without Tech Modernization Fund
After requesting $228 million for the creation of a Technology Modernization Fund in its proposed budget for fiscal 2018, the Trump administration is pledging to support to a House appropriations bill that would not include that proposed funding.
In a Statement of Administration Policy, the Office of Management and Budget said Tuesday the president would sign the spending package, now labeled the Make America Secure and Prosperous Appropriations Act, if it passed in its current form. The House was scheduled to begin debating the measure Wednesday.
That bill, as the administration explains in its statement, “does not include $228 million requested for the TMF to retire and replace antiquated legacy information technology (IT) systems.”
That fund — proposed to be housed in the General Services Administration — is “designed to improve the management and oversight of Federal IT modernization projects” and would be “dedicated to transitioning Federal agencies from IT infrastructure, systems, and services that are not cost-effective or secure to more efficient and secure technologies,” the administration’s analysis of its May budget request explains.
Still, the administration acknowledges the importance of such a fund and notes the White House’s desire to continue working toward it.
“The TMF is an important step in changing the way the Federal Government manages its IT portfolio by establishing a central mechanism designed to improve management and oversight with resources dedicated to IT modernization, moving agencies to more secure and efficient IT systems, and infrastructure,” the statement says. “The Administration looks forward to working with the Congress to provide the necessary funding for the TMF as the authorizing legislation moves forward.”
The White House said it favors the bill because it “provides critical funding to rebuild our military and includes the President’s $1.6 billion border wall proposal,” calling it “a strong step toward fulfilling the President’s promise to put the safety of the American people first.”
The bill would also trim the proposed budget for IT at the Office of Personnel Management by more than half. The White House requested $37 million earlier this year, but Frelinghuysen’s bill calls for just $18 million. OMB urges Congress to fully fund it’s original request.
“It is vital that OPM has the resources necessary to fund modernization of its IT systems, including its financial and retirement servicing systems,” the statement says. “These resources are necessary to defend against increasingly advanced cyber threats. The Administration looks forward to working with the Congress to ensure OPM is capable of meeting these needs.”
The administration also worries the bill’s funding for IT at the Department of Housing and Urban Development would hurt those programs.
“The Administration is concerned that HUD would be unable to maintain IT current services or invest in needed IT improvements, as the bill provides $150 million for IT—$100 million below the FY 2018 Budget request,” it says.
The new Statement of Administration Policy comes as Congress and the White House are running out of time to pass funding for fiscal 2018. Current appropriations run out on Sept. 30, the end of fiscal 2017.
OMB did not respond to FedScoop’s requests for comment.