Three Democratic senators today asked the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the General Services Administration (GSA) to take a “flexible” approach in deploying $1 billion of new Technology Modernization Fund (TMF) money for Federal agencies to use to improve their IT systems, including adjusting or removing requirements for agencies to reimburse the TMF with savings generated from projects that get money from the fund.

The request relayed in an April 22 letter from Sens. Mark Warner, D-Va., Gary Peters, D-Mich., and Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., for a more flexible approach to distributing the new TMF funding approved in the American Rescue Plan Act mirrors the aim of a request earlier this month from House tech leaders for a TMF project plan and similar repayment flexibility.

In their letter to OMB Acting Director Shalanda Young, Federal CIO Clare Martorana, and GSA Acting Administrator Katy Kale, the senators urged “flexible administration” of the new TMF funding as the Biden administration continues to respond to challenges stemming from the coronavirus pandemic – and pointed out that the law allows the required leeway for the administration to do so.

“We appreciate the urgency and care with which you will deploy this funding, and encourage you to utilize the flexibility granted to you by statute to ensure that funding from the TMF is able to rapidly meet the needs of agencies as they continue to respond to this pandemic,” the senators said.

“Under the MGT Act, the Director of the Office of Management and Budget, the Administrator of the General Services Administration, and the TMF Board, have various authorities to manage the fund, including the authorities to determine staffing levels and project selection criteria, and the authority to set the terms for agency repayment of funds,” they said.

“We encourage you to take steps to ensure that agencies are able to rapidly and effectively respond to pressing needs, including by significantly adjusting or removing reimbursement requirements for portions of the funding,” the senators said. “We continue to believe that repayment of funds to the TMF helps ensure its long-term viability, but the magnitude of the current challenges presents an urgent need.”

The senators said they looked forward to working with OMB and GSA “in addressing issues related to Federal IT and ensuring the lasting strength and effectiveness of the TMF.”

“We hope that you will take steps in management of the fund that meet the urgency of the moment, will issue clear and transparent guidance for agencies and Congress to understand selection criteria and repayment requirements, and will proactively work with agencies across the government to identify priority areas for investment, and communicate the Biden Administration’s commitment to act,” the senators said.

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