House support plunges for Technology Modernization Fund

It appears that House lawmakers are essentially not even considering the Biden administration’s $200 million request.

  • House support for the Technology Modernization Fund sinks lower, as it has been left out of the initial draft of the fiscal 2025 Financial Services and General Government spending bill. This means House lawmakers are essentially not even considering the Biden administration’s $200 million request. This comes after Senate lawmakers zeroed out funding and rescinded $100 million from the TMF in the 2024 appropriations bill. House Republicans didn't turn off the IT modernization spigot altogether. Lawmakers would give the U.S. Digital Service more authority to accept up to $30 million through the IT Oversight and Reform (ITOR) Fund for reimbursable services.
  • The Department of Veterans Affairs said it will not fire leaders who backed improper bonuses. VA Secretary Denis McDonough said a “series of massive mistakes” led to his department approving nearly $11 million in bonuses to career executives who weren’t eligible to receive them under the toxic exposure PACT Act. "You cannot read the statute and say that this was an acceptable use of that statute,” McDonough said. But McDonough also said he will not fire the Under Secretary for Health or the Under Secretary for Benefits. Those two officials pushed for these awards. The VA has recouped about 92% of the improper bonuses. But it isn’t canceling critical skills incentives that went to nearly 200 career executives in the field. McDonough said VA leaders outside DC followed procedures and justified the awards to retain VA medical center directors.
  • The Office of Personnel Management needs to make hiring authorities more effective, and address mission-critical skills gaps. Those are just a few of the top recommendations the Government Accountability Office has outlined for OPM. In total, there are 16 priority recommendations that remain open for OPM to address. OPM was able to implement one of GAO’s suggestions last year by adding some new cybersecurity protocols. But GAO added two new recommendations to the list for 2024. One is to identify ineligible recipients of federal health benefits. And the second is to do a better job managing software licenses.
  • House Republicans are advancing a $64 billion homeland security spending bill. The House Appropriations Committee’s 2025 bill would increase funding for immigration enforcement, while trimming the Biden administration’s request for cybersecurity and science spending. The homeland security subcommittee approved the bill yesterday along party lines. The legislation includes $2.9 billion for the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, which is about $78 million less than the White House’s requested. It also allocates $745 million for DHS’s Science and Technology Directorate, some $93 million below the Biden administration’s request. The bill is now slated to be considered before the full committee.
    (Homeland security subcommittee bill summary - House Appropriations Committee )
  • The House defense appropriations bill is out and it limits or blocks funding in several areas. The spending bill prohibits funding for DoD Diversity, Equity and Inclusion offices and cuts $53 million for the department's DEI initiatives. The $833 billion measure prohibits paid leave and travel-related expenses to obtain an abortion or abortion-related services. And the spending bill also cuts $621 million for climate-change initiatives and prohibits funding for President Joe Biden’s climate-change executive orders and regulations. The House Appropriations Defense Subcommittee is set to mark up the bill today.
  • A federal organization is making another pitch to repeal two long-standing provisions of Social Security. The National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association (NARFE) is heightening its calls to Congress to consider a bill that would remove the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) and the Government Pension Offset (GPO). NARFE said the two provisions unfairly reduce Social Security benefits for certain federal annuitants and other public sector workers. NARFE’s latest call for action comes ahead of a Senate committee hearing set for later this week to consider legislation that would revoke both WEP and GPO.
  • The Veterans Affairs Department is calling on veterans to apply for health care and benefits if they suspect they were exposed to toxic substances during their military service. Many more veterans are eligible to do so under the toxic-exposure PACT Act. The VA is holding PACT Act events in all 50 states and Puerto Rico this summer to encourage more veterans to apply and get screened for toxic exposure. The VA approved more than a million PACT Act claims for benefits so far. And more than 400,000 veterans have enrolled in VA health care thanks to the PACT Act.
  • When it comes to cybersecurity regulations, the White House wants to make sure agencies are singing from the same hymn sheet. The Office of the National Cyber Director is launching a regulatory harmonization pilot program. The effort will examine how to use reciprocity in the critical infrastructure subsector. The White House is launching the pilot after industry groups urged the cyber director’s office to harmonize a growing patchwork of cyber requirements across government. But the office said it will need Congress’s help to get all agencies onboard.
    (We need to harmonize cybersecurity regulations - White House Office of the National Cyber Director )
  • The Army is expanding its financial support for military spouses when they relocate. Spouses can now receive up to $1,000 for business expenses and an additional $1,000 for relicensing fees. Relicensing costs that are eligible for reimbursement include: exam fees, continuing education, certifications, business licenses, permits and registrations. Business-related expenses eligible for reimbursement include: equipment relocation, new technology purchases, IT services and inspection fees. Details on how to apply for reimbursement are available on the Military OneSource portal.

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