Technology Modernization Fund Gets Nothing in House-Passed Funding Bill

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Though the president already threatened to veto the bill if it passes the Senate.

The Technology Modernization Fund would receive no additional resources under the appropriations bill approved Thursday by House lawmakers.

In the early hours of the 116th Congress, the House passed a sweeping spending package that would reopen every federal agency affected by current government shutdown except the Homeland Security Department. The bill does not allocate any new money to the Technology Modernization Fund, which was established to let agencies pursue critical IT upgrades.

The fund received $100 million in its first year, and today still has about $31.5 million after the General Services Administration funded two batches of modernization efforts. Without additional appropriations, the pool would not replenish itself until agencies pay back the grants they receive, which could take up to five years.

The House in July proposed adding $150 million to the account for fiscal 2019. However, senators balked at the idea, citing the lack of data on the program’s outcomes.

House leaders said the bill passed Thursday was identical to a bipartisan spending package previously approved by the Senate. Still, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ken., said the upper chamber would not take up the legislation, and the Office of Management and Budget said the White House would veto the bill even if it made it through Congress.

When lawmakers first floated the idea of cutting program funds, OMB said doing so “would halt the Technology Modernization Board's ongoing work to tackle impactful, governmentwide IT modernization efforts.”

“The administration believes that any additional funding would be well-utilized and will continue working with the Congress to demonstrate the taxpayer value generated by the TMF,” OMB officials wrote in a letter to lawmakers.