Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., said today he is continuing to push hard to include a $3 billion Technology Modernization Fund (TMF) budget increase in future Federal government COVID-19 relief legislation.
The massive proposed TMF funding boost first surfaced last month in an alternative measure that House Democrats drafted to the $2.2 trillion CARES Act relief bill that Congress passed and President Trump signed late last month. Since then, House and Senate Democrats have proposed a $500 billion interim emergency coronavirus relief bill as a prelude to the next jumbo-sized relief measure that could rival the size of the CARES Act.
As written into the House bill last month that never came up for a vote, the TMF measure would provide $3 billion of funding until 2022 to finance Federal agency “technology-related modernization activities to prevent, prepare for, and respond to coronavirus.” By contrast, TMF has received new funding of $25 million per year in the last two fiscal years.
“The TMF proposal is being discussed for future relief packages and remains one of my priorities,” Rep. Connolly told MeriTalk in emailed responses to questions about the status of the proposed legislation.
The congressman – who chairs the House Government Operations subcommittee and was a prime mover on the Modernizing Government Technology Act that created TMF in 2017 – confirmed that the $3 billion funding level remains his target.
“Given the need for agencies to modernize their IT systems to address the long term effects of COVID-19, I will be requesting that leadership maintain the $3 billion in funding” that was in last month’s House draft legislation, the Take Responsibility for Workers and Families Act.
Asked whether the Federal government’s rapid turn toward telework in the coronavirus pandemic might yield more support in Congress for the TMF funding boost, Rep. Connolly replied, “Some of agency IT needs to expand telework during COVID-19 can be addressed with direct appropriations to an agency.”
“But there are also larger and more complex modernization efforts, that should be funded by the TMF,” he said. “The application process requires agencies to really think through how they will go about modernizing an IT system and the TMF Board will provide an additional layer of oversight to ensure that the project is on track throughout the duration of the acquisition.”
One important aspect of the legislation – a repayment mechanism – is still “under discussion,” the congressman said. Currently, the TMF program requires that Federal agencies repay amounts they borrow with savings generated from the projects that receive funding.
Connolly will discuss issues facing the Federal workforce and provide an update on Federal IT modernization and funding initiatives in future COVID-19 relief packages during a live virtual event hosted by MeriTalk scheduled for April 23.