House Dems Push for $9B for Tech Modernization Fund in Next COVID Package

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The funding would come from President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief plan.

The chairs of two key tech oversight committees urged House leadership Wednesday to ensure the next COVID-19 legislative relief package includes $9 billion in funding for the Technology Modernization Fund.

In a letter, Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., Chairwoman of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, and Gerry Connolly, D-Va., Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Government Operations, asked the speaker and minority leader to meet the $9 billion requested in President Joe Biden’s proposed COVID-19 relief package.

The letter, signed by six other Democrats, argues Biden’s proposed $9 billion for TMF is necessary in part because COVID-19 relief assistance that “was severely hindered by a federal IT infrastructure that has been neglected for decades, leaving it vulnerable to cyberattacks and other costly breakdowns.” 

TMF, established under the Modernizing Government Technology Act of 2017, was designed as a self-sustaining pool from which agencies could apply for loans for tech upgrades. However, Congress has only approved a maximum of $150 million for TMF, and hasn’t added more than $25 million in it per budget cycle. The letter argues the current level of funding makes little sense given that many agency project proposals exceed $500 million.

“The federal government’s consistent failure to prioritize IT modernization and program delivery prevented the public from receiving the federal assistance Congress authorized to help the nation stay afloat during one of the worst global pandemics and economic crises of our lifetime. Without modern and nimble IT systems, the federal government cannot deliver critical payments and services to individuals, families, and businesses who rely on them,” the letter states. “We cannot allow a failure to invest in technology prevent us, once again, from effectively implementing lifesaving policies and programs.

“That is why the subcommittee respectfully requests that any forthcoming emergency legislative relief package meets the president’s funding request of $9 billion for the TMF.  We must begin to address IT investments now, or we will continue down the same path as before unable to deliver critical services to the public at a time when our country needs it the most,” the letter said. 

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