By Aaron Boyd, Senior Editor, Nextgov
The Office of Management and Budget said it’s received more than US$2 billion in proposals since getting US$1 billion from the American Rescue Plan.
House lawmakers approved the largest appropriations-based addition to the Technology Modernization Fund since its inception but the White House says it was really hoping to get more.
The TMF—a central fund from which agencies can apply for loans to supplement major IT upgrades—got a major boost of US$1 billion earlier this year as part of the second COVID-19 stimulus package. After such a large deposit, appropriators were reluctant to meet the president’s request to add another US$500 million.
The first draft of the Financial Services and General Government appropriations bill for 2022 included US$50 million for TMF, double the amount included in previous years. The fund was initially established in 2018 with US$100 million; since that time, appropriators have added US$25 million per year but have balked at adding more.
The US$1 billion cash infusion was a special event for the fund, designed to boost its ability to help agencies meet critical, timely technology needs, including tools needed to respond to the pandemic and remediate multiple major cybersecurity events.
The administration wanted to keep that momentum going by requesting another US$500 million. But the final bill to emerge Monday from the House Appropriations Committee included US$50 million—the same amount Democrats included in their initial 2022 proposal.
The Office of Management and Budget pushed back Monday in a statement of administrative policy, saying the initial US$1 billion was nice, but agencies are asking for more than twice that amount.
“The administration appreciates the funding provided in the bill for the TMF and urges the Congress to provide the full US$500 million requested in the FY 2022 budget, which would support a more rapid transition of legacy systems and the adoption of more secure commercial technology,” the statement reads. “With US$1 billion in seed funding appropriated through the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, the TMF Board has received more than 100 proposals from agencies totaling over US$2.1 billion in requested funds, far exceeding the amount of resources available.”
The Financial Services and General Government bill now moves to the full House as part of a seven-bill minibus appropriations package.