A House version of COVID-19 relief legislation being prepared as an alternative to the separate relief/stimulus bill being considered by the Senate on March 24 features a stunning proposed increase in funding for the Technology Modernization Fund (TMF) that serves as a repayable source of capital for Federal agency IT modernization projects.
The House bill calls for TMF to receive $3 billion in funding that would remain available through September 2022. The additional funding would be “for technology-related modernization activities to prevent, prepare for, and respond to coronavirus,” according to the text of the measure.
Funding for TMF at that level would dwarf historical levels since the fund was authorized by the Modernizing Government Technology Act of 2017.
The fund received $100 million for Fiscal Year 2018. Despite White House requests for funding of $150 million in each of FY2019 and FY2020, TMF only got $25 million in FY2019, and $25 million in FY2020.
Earlier this year the White House proposed $150 million in TMF funding for FY2021.
Whether the House bill proceeds any further likely has a lot to do with whether the Senate reaches agreement on the relief/stimulus bill – the CARES Act (S. 3548) – it is currently debating. A Senate source indicated today that the bill may receive a vote by late tonight, at which point the House would vote on the Senate-approved measure – not on the alternative bill in the House that features the big proposed funding boost for TMF.
In addition to the TMF item, the House relief bill would also appropriate $6 million for the National Institute of Standards and Technology to respond to the coronavirus threat, and $14.4 million for the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency to respond to the coronavirus threat “through interagency critical infrastructure coordination and related activities.”
Elsewhere, the House bill would provide funding for “contingency planning, preparation, and resilience of elections for Federal office.” The bill would provide a total of $4 billion for elections, of which $20 million would go to risk-limiting audit grants. Additionally, the bill would require at least 15 days of early voting and give voters access to vote-by-mail for Federal elections.