An award to the National Archives appears designed to reduce a pandemic-era backlog in veterans records processing.
The Technology Modernization Fund is still busy spending the $1 billion plus-up from the American Rescue Plan Act.
The revolving fund, administered by the General Services Administration, announced $13.5 million in new investments for the National Archives and Records Administration and the Department of Agriculture.
The $9.1 million NARA investment will allow the agency to field cloud-based management platforms and digitize paper-based records, replacing legacy systems, according to a May 23 announcement. It's not clear from the announcement whether the plan for TMF funding directly addresses lags in records processing at the National Personnel Records Center. That NARA facility in St. Louis holds paper records that are required to complete Veterans Benefits Administration claims. Workplace conditions during the COVID-19 pandemic dramatically curtailed records processing from the NPRC over the past two years.
NARA's press office did not immediately reply to a request for clarification.
Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle have proposed legislation to fund the speedy digitization of those records, and also urged NARA to avail itself of TMF funding to support modernization – and several members of the House Oversight Committee indicated in statements that the funding would indeed be devoted to streamlining service at the NPRC.
"This investment will eliminate a years-long backlog that currently prevents veterans from accessing benefits they earned," Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.), the chairman of the Government Operations Subcommittee, said in a statement. "Technology makes federal programs and policies work."
USDA's $4.4 million award covers cybersecurity improvements and their transition to a zero-trust architecture. The award represents USDA's fourth successful application to obtain TMF funding. Earlier awards focused on legacy system modernization, cloud and citizen services.
"This TMF investment will improve the USDA's threat monitoring, detection and response capabilities," USDA Chief Information Officer Gary Washington said in a statement.