With the initial big round of Technology Modernization Fund awards announced in September skewing toward cybersecurity-related projects, Federal CIO Clare Martorana said today at MeriTalk’s TMF Forward virtual event that the next round of awards will be focused more on projects that will foster citizen service improvements.

Martorana explained during a keynote address that the TMF board is evaluating new project proposals that can be scaled across the government. While the initial $311 million of awards was focused on cybersecurity – along with IT modernization and COVID-19 – the next will focus on citizen impact.

“In the next phase of TMF, we will be getting to a more sustained state where we can process the remaining ARP (American Rescue Plan) funding and move that out the door in FY2022,” the Federal CIO said.  She said the TMF Board is focusing on “being the best stewards of taxpayer dollars,” and is “really focusing to ensure that projects will be able to deliver impact for our citizens.”

The first round of TMF awards from the ARP funding saw the bulk going to the General Services Administration (GSA) for its Login.gov project, GSA’s Max.gov and zero trust security architecture projects, and zero trust funding at Education Department and the Office of Personnel Management.

Commenting on agency demand for TMF funding, Martorana said that proposals still in the pipeline are continuing to outpace the fund’s total capacity by more than double.

“It’s important to note here that TMF is a very unique funding model; it’s not an annual appropriation,” Martorana said. “It’s serving to be a catalyst to take something, make an impact, share playbooks, best practices, and … scaling across government so we can learn from each other and really, really show great impact with the strategic investments that we are making in projects.”

In order to make sure the next round of funding focuses on making the most impact for citizens, Martorana said the board is also asking questions about whether agency proposals line up with an IT and cybersecurity modernization plan, and whether agencies are using best practices for modernization.

The White House’s recently released President’s Management Agenda “vision” document focuses on delivering equitable outcomes to citizens in their interactions with the government, and President Biden followed that up with a customer experience-focused executive order. Martorana’s position as Federal CIO makes her in part responsible for overseeing the implementation of both.

“It is my job as Federal CIO to ask, ‘How do we change this equation so that we can deliver for our citizens?’” she said. “It’s really my duty and our duty to figure this out so we can deliver results. To get there, we need to operate as one team for one America.”

She said priority number one for delivering these outcomes, including a more equitable customer experience, is by making sure cybersecurity is the first part of the experience for any IT modernization projects.

“We have the opportunity to improve the customer experience and accessibility for our teams and staff by leveraging this power, and it will also help us expedite digital transformation across government,” Martorana said. “And it will allow us to reduce the unimaginable administrative burden we place on our Federal workforce. We cannot inspire the next generation to serve our country by continuing to operate the way we do within our government.”

To hear all of Martorana’s keynote, please register here for on-demand content.

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Lamar Johnson
Lamar Johnson
Lamar Johnson is a MeriTalk Senior Technology Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.