The Biden administration is asking for $300 million of additional money for the Technology Modernization Fund (TMF) in Fiscal Year 2023 – an amount that would backfill most of the $320 million that the fund has awarded to Federal agencies since it received its $1 billion infusion in the American Rescue Plan Act last year.

The proposal to boost funding for TMF – which works to fund Federal agency IT modernization projects – is detailed by the General Services Administration (GSA) in the White House’s FY2023 budget request to Congress unveiled today.

The $300 million request for FY2023 follows the rejection by Congress earlier this year of a $500 million TMF funding request by the administration for FY2022.

Big Awards Planned for FY2022

In the budget request, GSA said the TMF will need more money soon because it plans to make additional awards amounting to several hundred million dollars by the end of FY2022 ending Sept. 30. Those awards will draw from the big pipeline of project proposals that the TMF board has received since getting the $1 billion infusion.

“Since the American Rescue Plan (ARP) was enacted, the Board has received over 130 proposals from over 60 Federal agencies and components requesting more than $2.5 billion in funding,” GSA said.

“With existing proposals in the pipeline and new proposals received on a rolling basis, the TMF plans to allocate the majority of remaining ARP funds and announce additional investment rounds in FY 2022,” the agency said.

By contrast, prior to 2021 the TMF had reviewed in excess of 50 project proposals seeking funding of more than $550 million. Those efforts resulted in the funding of 11 projects, and active investments of about $89 million.

“Ultimately, retiring or modernizing vulnerable and inefficient legacy IT systems will make agencies more secure and yield savings in time and budget,” GSA said in the new budget request. “Absent immediate action, the cost to operate and maintain legacy systems will continue to grow while cybersecurity vulnerabilities and other mission risks grow. As a means of addressing these pressing challenges, the TMF is an important step in changing the way the Federal Government manages its IT portfolio.”

TMF Funding Priorities Unchanged

In its budget request submission, GSA indicated that the TMF will continue to focus on four major areas that it identified last year: cybersecurity, modernizing “high priority” systems, improving public-facing digital services, and creating more cross-government collaboration.

TMF’s biggest round of funding last year – amounting to $311 million – was largely tied into cybersecurity-related projects, with more than half of the total going to GSA for work on its,, and zero trust security projects.  Additional funding went to the Education Department and Office of Personnel Management for zero trust transition work.

Federal CIO Clare Martorana said in December that future funding was more likely to focus on technology to improve citizen services.

Elsewhere in the budget request, GSA highlighted the $115 million FY2023 request for the Federal Citizen Services Fund administered by the agency’s Technology Transformation Services (TTS) organization “to support modernization and adoption of digital services, increasing the federal government’s investment in digital shared services.”

“The budget will allow the Presidential Innovation Fellows (PIF) to serve agencies quicker and with more flexibility and, alongside the U.S. Digital Corps, further strengthen the government’s technology workforce,” GSA said.

“FedRAMP will grow in agency and cloud service provider participation and further build automation initiatives, streamlining the assessment and authorization process,” the agency said. “In addition, USAGov will serve as the ‘front door’ to government with streamlined delivery of services related to the public’s needs in a single place.”

“These are common-sense investments in our nation’s physical and digital infrastructure that will improve governmentwide digital services and cyber defenses; strengthen American leadership on clean energy; and make critical upgrades to our public buildings,” said GSA Administrator Robin Carnahan of the agency’s entire budget request.

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John Curran
John Curran
John Curran is MeriTalk's Managing Editor covering the intersection of government and technology.