White House Chides Senate For Not Funding Modernization Fund

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The administration says the Senate version of the Financial Services and General Government spending bill is too high but doesn’t cover priorities.

The White House isn’t happy with the Senate version of the 2019 appropriations bill for interior, environment, financial services and general government, including a lack of funding for the administration’s Technology Modernization Fund.

The fund—created as part of the Modernizing Government Technology Act—is a central repository of money that can be used for agency IT modernization upgrades, with a specific focus on projects with high return on investment and governmentwide impact. It’s managed by the Technology Modernization Fund Board, housed in the Office of Management and Budget.

On Tuesday, OMB officials sent a statement of administration policy to the Senate Committee on Appropriations expressing the White House’s displeasure with much of spending bill. The statement calls out higher levels of spending than the administration wanted, as well as a lack of funding for certain priorities and questions of constitutional issues with some provisions in the bill.

OMB chaffed at the top line figure—$38 billion more than the administration wanted—but there were some expenditures the White House wanted included, among them, the Technology Modernization Fund.

The fund was given $100 million in the 2018 spending package passed in March, $45 million of which has been allocated to three modernization projects.

House appropriators included $150 million to add to the $55 million left in the account. However, the Senate bill omits the fund entirely.

Discontinuing funding “would halt the Technology Modernization Board's ongoing work to tackle impactful, governmentwide IT modernization efforts,” OMB states in the letter. “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.”

Representatives from the TMF Board declined to comment on the statement or the Senate bill.