7 new TMF awards include one classified project

The awards focus on zero trust and include a major investment in the Login.gov federal digital identity solution.

tech budget (Sergey Nivens/Shutterstock.com)

The Technology Modernization Fund Board announced $311 million in new awards on Thursday – the first tranche of funding since a $1 billion plus-up to the fund was included in the American Rescue Plan Act.

"We are picking projects that not only have the greatest chance of success, but that we can also build playbooks off of so that we can repeat," Federal CIO Clare Martorana said at a Sept. 28 hearing of the Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Spending Oversight of the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee. Martorana serves as chair of the TMF board.

The Office of Personnel Management, the Department of Education and the General Services Administration all received awards to accelerate their transition to zero trust.

OPM was awarded $9.9 million to transition to zero-trust networking. According to the TMF website, OPM will establish zero-trust solutions in identity, devices, network, application workload and data. In the 2015 hack of personnel systems managed by OPM, which led to the loss of more than 20 million personnel records, one major issue was that the agency's data was not encrypted at rest on its own systems.

The Department of Education is getting $20 million for a two-year zero-trust program to implement a zero-trust architecture. The agency is creating a program management office focused on zero-trust activities.

GSA's $29.8 million award will support the modernization of legacy systems and the transition to an advanced zero-trust architecture.

Separately, GSA will get $187 million – by far the single largest TMF award in the history of the program – to secure and scale up Login.gov. GSA's identity management solution is used by 27 agencies across more than 200 government services, but it still doesn't reach some of the biggest public-facing federal programs. The TMF funding is designed to improve cybersecurity of the service and establish an in-person identify verification option for users who don't have digital credentials to create a Login.gov account. The funding will also be used to make it easier for agencies to adopt Login.gov.

The Department of Homeland Security is in line for $50 million to support border technology integration – bringing together multiple independent data systems and paper-based systems to "more efficiently, effectively, and humanely process noncitizens encountered at our Southwest Border," according to the TMF website.

No details are available on the classified project with regard to the agency receiving the funds or what they will be used for. The TMF funding for the classified project appears to be about $14.3 million.

TMF was established in 2017 under the Modernizing Government Technology Act and serves as a revolving fund for IT projects that significantly improve cybersecurity and advance citizen services. In addition to the $1 billion infusion under the American Rescue Plan Act earlier this year, the TMF board also eased some of the fund's payback requirements to incentivize more agencies to apply.