TMF Invests $1.78M to Modernize AbilityOne’s ‘Obsolete’ Software

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The funding will help to improve the software security of the commission—the largest employer of persons who are blind or have significant disabilities—while bringing the software into a cloud environment.

The Technology Modernization Fund is investing $1.78 million to improve U.S. AbilityOne Commission’s procurement list software, which shows the products or services federal government clients can buy through the program. 

The funding will help enhance system accessibility and security, according to an announcement on Monday. 

The AbilityOne program—which the AbilityOne Commission, an independent federal agency, oversees—provides approximately $4 billion in products and services to the federal government each year and is “one of the largest sources of employment in the U.S. for individuals who are blind or have significant disabilities,” as stated in the announcement. Federal government customers purchase items from the procurement list, which includes goods and services by nonprofits or other entities employing blind individuals or others with significant disabilities.

PLIMS software is a web-based application that “connects employers of individuals who are blind or who have significant disabilities with federal agency customers,” the announcement stated. The current software “is obsolete and has no original manufacturer support, with significant security risks, duplicated data and poor usability and accessibility,” according to the TMF project page.

This software modernization project will help connect federal customers with program partners, improve accessibility and create a more secure system with access control and disaster recovery capability. It will also allow the Commission to utilize open source technology to continuously modernize PLIMS over time. The upgrade will include moving to a cloud-based software-as-a-service environment.

“TMF funding will modernize critical software that supports employment opportunities for thousands of people, including more than 2,500 wounded warriors,” TMF Executive Director Raylene Yung said. “AbilityOne directly supports a variety of programs that connect veterans and others with disabilities to nonprofit agencies and other resources.”

The modernization will also help improve the procurement software that enables buying and selling of the products and services that AbilityOne offers to federal customers. The improvements from the TMF funding will help the Commission perform its program oversight, according to the TMF website.  

The General Services Administration—which houses TMF— told Nextgov, “The project will provide a cloud-based SaaS solution that increases interoperability between the Commission, nonprofit partners and federal customers. PLIMS 2.0 will enable the Commission to better track and approve nearly 22,000 annual business transactions for approximately 450 nonprofit agencies.”

“In addition to enhancing business processes, the new functionality will also provide better data management and improve the Commission’s ability to track and report compliance inspections, including corrective actions, to ensure program compliance by the nonprofit agencies,” GSA said. “The new PLIMS system will also facilitate data sharing among AbilityOne Program participants.”

The TMF funding will go to the Commission to improve the PLIMS system. 

“AbilityOne is pleased to partner with the TMF to modernize our PLIMS system,” Jeffrey A. Koses, GSA’s senior procurement executive for the Office of Governmentwide Policy and U.S. AbilityOne Commission chairperson, said. “The investment will increase the Commission’s ability to execute its statutory oversight of the program and will benefit the federal customers who depend on AbilityOne products and services, as well as the program’s 450 nonprofits, which employ 40,000 people on AbilityOne contracts.”

This project is one of TMF’s smaller investments. Most projects are more than $5 million, with a handful between $2 million and $5 million; the largest investment was for $187 million for TMF has more than 30 investments to date.