TMF Announces $36.4M in Awards

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The Army, the Office of Personnel Management and the Federal Housing Authority are the latest recipients of awards from the Technology Modernization Fund.

The Technology Modernization Fund announced three awards for the Office of Personnel Management, Federal Housing Administration and U.S. Army on Thursday.

“With these new investments, the TMF now has a portfolio of 31 investments totaling over half a billion dollars,” said TMF executive director Raylene Yung in a statement..

Since the $1 billion appropriation for TMF in the 2021 American Rescue Plan Act, the organization has gotten over 150 proposals from 70 agencies – totaling over $2.8 billion in funding demand, according to the Thursday announcement of the new awards.

OPM is getting a little over $6 million to update the content and tech of its website to improve user experience. 

Right now, the website can be clunky and difficult to use. It also has 3,600 dead links, according to the TMF website. The plan is for OPM to use a content management system in its enterprise cloud environment as part of this project. 

FHA, an agency within the Department of Housing and Urban Development, received a $14.8 million investment to replace its legacy systems with a cloud-based platform that will integrate certain systems with the General Services Administration's shared sign-on service, Login.gov. 

The current legacy systems are expensive and have created a system at FHA with disparate identity management solutions. The set-up also doesn’t align with the federal requirements for identity credential access management, according to the TMF website.

This is the third TMF award featuring Login.gov. The others involve identity modernization at the Veterans Administration, as well as a $187 million investment in Login.gov itself. 

Finally, TMF also announced a $15.5 million award for the Army in a project to modernize and maintain operational tech at Organic Industrial Bases that manufacture equipment, vehicles and ammunition. 

Vulnerabilities in operational technology systems can pose grave consequences – many OT systems are based on older operating systems and mainframes that don't support current security methods. In April. the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency expanded the Joint Cyber Defense Collaborative to include more than a dozen companies and organizations that manufacture, support and deliver industrial control systems and operational technology.

OT has been a long standing issue for Army tech leaders.

"We know how to patch traditional IT systems. How do you patch sensors and operational technology, how do we collect the right analytics and data, and how do we share data with our joint service partners and industry. That is a policy problem," Iyer told reporters in October 2021 at the Association of the U.S. Army's annual conference.

The new investments come as questions from lawmakers remain on how the original payback mechanisms of the fund work and whether TMF has strayed too far from core IT modernization issues.

What exactly Congress decides to do regarding TMF in the next funding bill remains to be seen. 

The administration asked for $300 million in new money. 

The six-bill funding package for fiscal year 2023 passed by the House in July included a $100 million bump for the TMF.

But the Senate bill text released the same month didn’t put any new money into TMF. An explanatory statement released by the Senate Appropriations Committee with the bill text said that the committee is “still concerned that the current funding mechanisms may not be the best way to finance government-wide initiatives.”

The Senate bill would instead up the spending cap of a different, existing funding mechanism run by the General Services Administration and the Office of Management and Budget and allow it to be spent on tech projects.

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