The Technology Modernization Fund (TMF) today announced $13.5 million of new project funding to the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) to improve citizen service through better records delivery, and to the Agriculture Department (USDA) to speed cybersecurity improvement efforts.

Speeding Records Production

NARA will receive $9.1 million of TMF Funding “to digitize and transform paper-based fulfillment processes for citizen and government agencies through secure, accessible web portals,” said TMF and the General Services Administration (GSA), which administers the fund.

The funding will help NARA to replace legacy tech-based records systems with cloud-based platforms, which in turn will allow agency staff to fulfill records requests “remotely, digitally and in a secure fashion,” GSA said. NARA gets about eight million records requests from other Federal agencies per year, and about 1.1 million requests from U.S. military veterans and their families who need those records to access benefits.

NARA’s ability to keep up with veterans’ records requests has come under increasing congressional scrutiny in recent months. In April, the House Oversight and Reform Committee voted to approve the Access for Veterans to Records Act, a bill that aims to cut down on NARA’s backlog of records requests by helping the agency upgrade its IT systems and electronic records archive.

“We are grateful to the TMF for vitally needed assistance to help with IT upgrades to transform our ability to meet mission requirements and deliver needed records to the American people,” commented Debra Steidel Wall, acting archivist of the United States. “Our very mission is to drive openness, cultivate public participation, and strengthen our nation’s democracy through public access to high-value government records.”

Zero Trust at USDA

The Agriculture Department will receive $4.4 million in TMF funding to increase threat monitoring, detection, and response capabilities as part of the agency’s migration to zero trust security architectures as laid out in the Biden administration’s cybersecurity executive order.

USDA’s work with the funding will help to better secure shared services and sensitive data, and protect websites that connect citizens to vital agency services, GSA said.

“This TMF investment will improve the USDA’s threat monitoring, detection and response capabilities,” commented Gary Washington, CIO at USDA.

TMF Leadership

“Every interaction between the government and the public is an opportunity to deliver the efficient, effective, and secure services the American people expect and deserve,” commented Clare Martorana, Federal CIO and TMF Board chair.

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“With the TMF investments in NARA and USDA, we’re moving the needle in deploying technology that is secure by design and building back trust in delivering a government that meets today’s customer expectations,” she said.

“Each year, millions of Americans rely on the security and accessibility of records from NARA and USDA, including military families, government employees, and everyday Americans,” said GSA Administrator Robin Carnahan.

“These investments will help modernize both record-delivery systems and network security,” Carnahan said. “This is another example of the TMF’s approach to making smart technology investments that provide better service to the public and save money for taxpayers.”

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