A group of eight House Democrats is pushing House leadership to include in the next round of COVID-19 relief legislation the $9 billion boost to the Technology Modernization Fund (TMF) proposed by President Biden earlier this month.

The letter from House Oversight and Reform Committee Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., and Government Operations Subcommittee Chairman Gerry Connolly, D-Va., and six other House Democrats emphasize moving on the issue while the iron is hot, and the necessity of helping Americans receive Federal assistance during the pandemic.

President Biden proposed the huge increase in funding for the TMF – which exists to fund Federal agency IT modernization projects in exchange for repayment from savings realized by those projects – as part of his $1.9 trillion economic recovery and COVID-19 response plan. In each of the past three years, Congress has given TMF $25 million of new money. Biden’s transition team called the proposal “the most ambitious effort ever to modernize and secure Federal IT and networks.”

In their Jan. 27 letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., the eight House Democrats said the rollout of Federal pandemic assistance over the past ten months has been “severely hindered by a federal IT infrastructure that has been neglected for decades, leaving it vulnerable to cyberattacks and other costly breakdowns.”

“The federal government’s consistent failure to prioritize IT modernization and program delivery prevented the public from receiving the federal assistance Congress authorized to help the nation stay afloat during one of the worst global pandemics and economic crises of our lifetime,” the House members said.

“Without modern and nimble IT systems, the federal government cannot deliver critical payments and services to individuals, families, and businesses who rely on them,” they said. “We cannot allow a failure to invest in technology prevent us, once again, from effectively implementing lifesaving policies and programs.”

“A larger capital investment into the fund would give the federal government a chance to address the most challenging enterprise-wide problems, such as retiring legacy IT systems, securing federal systems and information, and delivering seamless services and programs that the public deserves,” the House members said. “We must begin to address IT investments now, or we will continue down the same path as before unable to deliver critical services to the public at a time when our country needs it the most,” they warned.

Also signing onto the letter were Reps. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C., Robin Kelly, D-Ill., John Sarbanes, D-Md., Jackie Speier, D-Calif., and Ro Khanna, D-Calif.

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