Two new agencies and one returning department receive the second round of loans totaling $23.5 million under the Technology Modernization Fund.
The TMF board approved projects from the departments of Labor and Agriculture and the General Services Administration.
GSA will receive about $15 million for application modernization, which includes transitioning 10 percent-to-15 percent of them to open source from proprietary.
USDA won money for a second time, garnering $5 million for an infrastructure optimization and cloud adoption initiative under the Centers of Excellence initiative. USDA won $10 million in the first round to continue to modernize its Farmers.gov portal.
Labor will use its $3.5 million award from the board to modernize its work visa application process that today relies on specialized printers, expensive blue security paper and the Postal Service to deliver certification letters.
“Awards today will drive specific citizen and agency benefits, but also create roadmaps and learnings that will be leveraged across other agencies with similar challenges,” said Suzette Kent, the federal chief information officer, in a release.
The TMF board made the first round of funding to three agencies in June, totaling $45 million out of the $100 million Congress allocated for 2018.
With this second round of awards, the board still has $31.5 million to hand out this year for a possible third series of loans. Board members said several times over the last few months that interest in applying for the loan, which has to be paid back in five years under rules set by Congress in the Modernizing Government Technology (MGT) Act, has been stronger in the second round.
The administration also is facing an unknown future of the TMF as Senate lawmakers cut the funding in the fiscal 2019 budget, but House lawmakers have included $150 million. Legislators are expected to finalize the Financial Services and General Government appropriations bill, which includes the TMF, when they return in mid-November.
GSA, Labor, USDA and $23.5 million
In the meantime, GSA, Labor and USDA will receive a jumpstart for these ongoing modernization efforts.
GSA said its legacy applications are a challenge to maintain and lacks flexibility for users to obtain information.
“Through this project, GSA will pursue full transformation of the planned applications, including the hardware, database layer, and application layers. GSA will use a cross-functional solutions team that has deep understanding of the current applications’ technical specifications and collaborated to create a set of standard target technologies to migrate toward,” the board states on its website. “Without this funding, GSA would need to continue using these outdated applications in most instances and would only be able to pursue modernization to decouple legacy technology piecemeal as funding became available. However, with this funding, GSA will be able to pursue the modernization of a significant proportion of impacted systems as a coordinated project using best in class agile methodologies.”
Part of the reason this project received funding is the goal for GSA to create a playbook for similar modernization efforts.
Over at Labor, the end goal is improved citizen services and cost savings.
“The proposed project will eliminate the need for the Department of Labor to mail the Labor certification to the employer applicant and will also eliminate the need for the employer applicant to mail the Labor certification to USCIS. The system improvements will enable the Department of Labor to issue a Labor certification securely and electronically to employer applicants through an ‘E-Certification’ document, similar to the electronic boarding passes issued by airlines. In addition, this project will streamline and improve data accessibility and reporting capabilities by creating a data hub at the Department of Labor to securely transmit the Labor Certification and other necessary documentation to USCIS,” the board states. “Without this funding, the Department of Labor would need to maintain the use of the paper-based process until a future year. However, with support from the Technology Modernization Fund (TMF), the department will have transitioned the Labor Certification process for all types of visas from the paper-based process in use today to a digital ‘E-Certification’ process.”
Like Labor, USDA expects to use the extra funding to improve efficiencies, save money and decrease risks.
“The project will migrate 10 applications selected for their mission impact and readiness. In addition, USDA selected applications that have some structural commonalities that will allow them to migrate to standardized commercial cloud ‘landing zones’ that will become the foundation of USDA’s future cloud migration initiatives,” the board states.