Education Department CIO Jason Gray told Sen. Maggie Hassan, D-N.H., that the agency does not have the necessary authorities from Congress to set up a working capital fund under the Modernizing Government Technology (MGT) Act, but said if it received that authority the department would use the money exclusively to finance IT modernization projects.

CIO Gray’s comment on the working capital fund to finance IT modernization came in a response to request in June from Sen. Hassan to ten Federal agencies about what they are doing to modernize systems in the event of another crisis on par with the coronavirus pandemic.

Gray explained that the Education Department tried to get the authority for the working capital fund in Fiscal Year 2020 budget legislation, but the provision was dropped from the final bill.  The department has a similar request for working capital fund authorization in President’s Trump’s budget request for FY2021.

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If that effort succeeds, “the funds within the WCF would be for exclusive use by the CIO for IT modernization efforts,” he said.

Earlier this month, Gray asked the House Government Operations Subcommittee for assistance to obtain the transfer authority needed to set up the fund.  Subcommittee Chairman Gerry Connolly, D-Va., told Gray, “we certainly will try to work with you on that transfer authority.”

Rep. Connolly has expressed frustration going back to 2018 that some agencies have had problems setting up working capital funds authorized by the MGT Act, as has Rep. Will Hurd, R-Texas, an author of the MGT Act who has insisted that the law provides sufficient authority for agencies to set up the working capital funds.

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Jordan Smith
Jordan Smith
Jordan Smith is a MeriTalk Senior Technology Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.