Lawmakers Tell National Archives to Use Tech Modernization Funding to Fix Veterans’ Backlog


Congressional oversight chiefs want the National Archives to apply for funding through the Technology Modernization Fund.

A bipartisan cadre of Congressional oversight leaders Monday urged the National Archives and Records Administration to apply for funding through the Technology Modernization Fund to reduce a backlog veterans’ requests.

The letter asks Archivist of the United States David Ferriero to seek funding through TMF to help clear a backlog of approximately 500,000 unprocessed veteran requests for records at the National Personnel Records Center. The NPRC houses a variety of paper-based and other records necessary for veterans to receive certain benefits, including medical treatment, unemployment assistance and home loans and student loans. Workplace restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic further complicated the agency’s existing issues, according to the lawmakers, but the agency should be digitizing its records processes anyway.

“NARA has identified the need to digitize records as one of the biggest hurdles to addressing the backlog of veterans’ requests. Congress has provided substantial financial support for NARA to reach this goal,” states the letter, which is signed by Oversight and Reform Committee Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney and Ranking Member James Comer; Government Operations Subcommittee Chairman Gerald Connolly and Ranking Member Jody Hice; and National Security Subcommittee Chairman Stephen Lynch and Ranking Member Glenn Grothman.  “Although NARA has taken some steps to begin digitization, more significant action is needed to improve the agency’s IT infrastructure.”

The TMF was established under the Modernizing Government Technology Act of 2017 and allows agencies to improve or replace existing IT systems outside of the normal appropriations process. The fund recently received a major cash infusion of $1 billion through the COVID-19 stimulus package, and lawmakers believe NARA’s case is tailor-made for TMF.

“We strongly believe that the digitization of NPRC’s records holdings fits both the objective and spirit of the TMF, and we urge NARA to apply for additional assistance through this important program,” the lawmakers said. “It is critical that NARA use any and all available tools to ensure we can uphold our commitments to our nation’s veterans.”