Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., long a prime mover in the House for Federal IT modernization, today hailed the inclusion of $1 billion of new funding for the Technology Modernization Fund (TMF) in the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act approved by the House.

The bill – a centerpiece of President Biden’s initial legislative agenda – will become law in short order with the President’s signature.

“Throughout this global health crisis, millions of Americans facing illness, unemployment, food insecurity, and an inability to pay their mortgages or rent have looked to the federal government for help,” Rep. Connolly said in a statement.

“Yet despite urgent Congressional action to provide unprecedented levels of economic assistance, those in need have had their misery exacerbated by a broken IT infrastructure that has prevented them from receiving timely support,” the congressman continued.

“I want to thank the Biden administration for their relentless commitment to the Technology Modernization Fund, and support in the American Rescue Plan. This $1 billion investment will enable federal agencies to better respond to the coronavirus pandemic and future national emergencies as well as meet the urgent economic needs of American families,” he said.

Rep. Connolly was an original cosponsor in 2017 of the Modernizing Government Technology Act, which created the TMF. The purpose of the fund is to provide money to Federal agencies to undertake IT modernization projects, with those funds being repaid over time through savings created by the modernization work.

The fund has received $150 million since its creation but has only awarded about $80 million to ten modernization projects thus far.  The modest demand thus far for TMF funding has been tied to the existing repayment provisions, Federal tech officials have said in private.

A coalition of tech-sector groups last month urged House and Senate leaders to exempt a portion of new TMF funding from existing reimbursement provisions in order to help speed the Federal agency IT modernization process.  Organizations signing onto the Feb. 2 letter include the Internet Association, the Alliance for Digital Innovation, and the Information Technology Industry Council (ITIC).

Separately, ITIC President Jason Oxman issued a statement applauding House passage of the relief bill today, and in particular inclusion of investments in Federal IT modernization and cybersecurity. “As the United States recovers from the COVID pandemic, it is important to ensure government can continue to serve citizens online securely and effectively,” Oxman said.

“We commend the U.S. House of Representatives for approving key investments to not only modernize Federal information technology but also better protect against cyber threats. We will continue to work with our government partners to leverage digital technology to help the U.S. become more resilient as it recovers from COVID-19 and its economic impact.”

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