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March 08, 2021

Technology Modernization Fund 3rd Anniversary

By Maria Roat, Deputy Federal CIO


This week marks the three-year anniversary of the Technology Modernization Fund (TMF). The TMF is an innovative funding vehicle that gives Federal agencies additional ways to deliver services to the American public more quickly, better secure sensitive systems and data, and use taxpayer dollars more efficiently.

When I received the call three years ago to join the TMF Board, I was thrilled. I understood how impactful the Modernizing Government Technology (MGT) Act could be in the creation of the TMF and agency-level IT Working Capital Funds (ITWCF) enabling multi-year funding. It was, and continues to be, humbling to have the opportunity and ability to influence and impact Federal-wide technology programs through a seat on the board.

My fellow Board members are nothing short of insightful and inquisitive, and experts in their field. Each brings a breadth and depth of knowledge, and government and industry experience and perspective. There is no shortage of strategic and tactical questions as agency teams ‘make their pitch’ to the Board. The Board makes hard decisions to fund or not fund.

After three years, the Board made significant progress in its work to evaluate proposals and ensure agencies are successfully executing against milestones. This progress includes milestone-based release of funds, requiring agency Chief Information Officers (CIOs) to address real or perceived delays through out-of-cycle briefings, and consistently and continuously pressing for details. We strive to be transparent through award announcements, formal Congressional notifications, posting online updates, and social media.

I see first-hand the positive impacts of multi-year funding to accelerate technology modernization programs that improve the business of the agency and the Federal Government.

Sometimes the little things are the big things. The Department of Labor used TMF funding to digitize its Labor Certification process. Digital E-Certification not only improved citizen-facing services for the Department of Labor, but rippled improvements upstream and downstream with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, Department of State, and Department of Agriculture, eliminating paper certification and cutting weeks from the printing and mailing process.

It is inspiring when Deputy Secretaries, Chief Financial Officers (CFOs), and CIOs form a partnership, commit to leveraging the TMF and participate or lead their agency’s pitch. They truly understand the benefits to their agency’s mission through underlying technology and data improvements. I’ve seen agencies come back to the Board for a second round – after getting turned down the first time – bringing better data and information to defend their proposal.

The TMF is addressing systemic technology challenges one program at a time while improving the business of the Federal Government. It cannot be overlooked that TMF beneficiaries include farmers, labor certification applicants, state and local Fair Employment Practice Agencies, and specialty crops inspectors for perishable agricultural items.

As the TMF hits its third anniversary, I cannot be prouder of the Board accomplishments and its ability to influence improvements in Federal Government service delivery.

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