Deputy Federal CIO Maria Roat confirmed July 28 that the Technology Modernization Fund (TMF) is still accepting proposals for IT modernization projects under a solicitation announced in May, and offered tips to agencies looking to score some of the $1 billion in funding the TMF received as part of the American Rescue Plan.

In addition to her duties at OMB, Roat is also an alternate board member for the TMF Board where she’s focused on looking for proposals that “move the whole of government to that consistent baseline of maturity in cybersecurity and privacy protections,” she said during a July 28 Palo Alto Networks event.

Roat said the majority of proposals that have come in so far are focused on cybersecurity priorities, echoing the same sentiment from Federal CIO Clare Martorana, chair of the TMF Board. As of July 28, Martorana said the board has received 108 proposals from Federal agencies, totaling $2.1 billion.

Although the board set a June 2 deadline for proposals to “receive expedited consideration,” Roat confirmed the board is still accepting proposals.

“We put a date out there as a notional deadline, you know, get your proposals in there, but we’re still accepting proposals. And I know we’ve sent some back for refinement,” Roat said during the event.

For agencies submitting their Initial Project Proposals (IPPs) to the board, Roat encouraged agencies to “get to the point” and said the board is “looking for that really thoughtfully crafted business case.”

“That’s what we’re after. It’s not about the tech,” Roat said. “I keep hearing, ‘It’s about the technology and we’re going to buy a thing. And we’re going to do a thing,’ and it’s really about the entirety of the business case, and that’s what we’re looking for in the proposals.”

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“If you actually look at the initial project proposal, I think there’s one question on there about tech and all the rest of it is about the rest of the business case,” she added. “And this is what we’re looking for in those initial project proposals – to be able to make that pitch because the board needs that level of confidence that the proposal as it’s written – it should be short and sweet, that you know what you’re talking about, you’re making that business case for the funds, and that it’s a good solution that you’re proposing, that the governance levers are in place.”

As for keeping the proposals short and sweet, Roat said she received an IPP last week that was 19 pages, which she called “way too long.” Roat noted “that does not constitute a pitch,” and said that greater amount of information should wait for the Full Project Proposal instead.

“The proposals are running the gamut of really solid good business cases to one that was like 19 pages and told us all about their agencies. We already know who your agency is – get to the point,” she advised.

As the IPPs come in, Roat said the board is currently “looking for opportunities for government-wide initiatives,” proposals that can be impactful for “the whole Federal government or multiple agencies.”

MeriTalk is putting the spotlight on all of the emerging developments with TMF in our first TMF Forward event scheduled for December 16. The event will showcase the tangible value of TMF in driving IT modernization forward, and will feature some of the leading technology voices in Congress including Reps. Gerry Conolly, D-Va., and Jim Langevin, D-R.I. Interested in joining us? Check out more information here.

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Grace Dille
Grace Dille
Grace Dille is a MeriTalk Staff Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.
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