The latest spending package put forward by both chambers of Congress proposes to add some money to the Technology Modernization Fund—a revolving fund to help agencies with critical IT projects—though a fraction of what lawmakers had included in previous spending bills.
The House Appropriations Committee released last week what would be the 10th spending bill offered to reopen portions of the government that have been shut down since appropriations lapsed on Dec. 22. Tucked within the bill is $25 million to add to the Technology Modernization Fund, which was established by the Modernizing Government Technology Act and received $150 million for the first time in fiscal 2018. A spending bill introduced Monday by the Senate Committee on Appropriations includes the same $25 million line item.
House lawmakers originally proposed adding another $100 million to the fund, bringing the topline up to $250 million. However, the Senate version of that spending bill zeroed out any additions, essentially capping the fund at $150 million. The compromise version of those spending bills never made it to a vote, prompting what has now become the longest government shutdown in history.
When the 116th Congress convened in January, the House offered additional spending bills to fully fund the government, though the TMF line was again zeroed out.
The latest bills would add a little back and, if passed, would increase the fund’s ceiling to $175 million.
“I’m glad that Democratic appropriators have made tech modernization a funding priority,” Rep. Robin Kelly, D-Ill., who served as ranking member of the House Oversight Subcommittee on IT during the last Congress, told Nextgov. “I hope more agencies will submit applications for this critical IT and cybersecurity enhancement funding.”
Six projects have gotten awards off the original $150 million outlay, leaving approximately $31.5 million still to dole out. Work on those six projects—spread across five agencies—has already begun, giving each program five years to repay the Modernization Fund.