House subcommittee reduces funding across the board for IT modernization in 2020

House Appropriations Subcommittee lawmakers want to plus-up the Technology Modernization Fund for fiscal 2020 by $10 million, but it’s still well below the Trump administration’s request.

Members of the Financial Services and General Government subcommittee released the first draft of the 2020 spending bill Friday with $35 million for the TMF.

President Donald Trump asked for $150 million for the TMF in his 2020 request.

The 2020 bill continued the Trump administration’s challenges of getting Congress to buy-in to the technology modernization initiative. After receiving $100 million in 2018, lawmakers approved only $25 million this year. The administration has received only half of the $250 million authorized in the Modernizing Government Technology Act and the less than 30% of $438 million the White House requested in fiscal 2018 and 2019.

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While the TMF is one path toward modernization, the subcommittee is proposing to cut the two other funds used to address legacy technology.

The subcommittee proposes to allocate $15 million to the IT Oversight and Reform (ITOR) fund, which is about $13 million less than in 2019 and $3 million less than the White House requested for 2020.

Additionally, lawmakers want to cut the Federal Citizen Services Fund, which is located at the General Services Administration, to $53.4 million. This would be a decrease of $5 million from this year and down $5 million from the administration’s request.

The one bit of silver lining in the budget proposal is lawmakers are directing GSA to spend $5 million from the Federal Citizen Services Fund on the implementation of the Foundations for Evidence-Based Policy Making Act. The president signed the bill in January and the Office of Management and Budget is planning to release implementation guidance as well as an update to the Federal Data Strategy in the coming weeks.

Lawmakers included two other IT modernization related provisions in the spending bill of note.

First, subcommittee members continue to want a spending plan and explanation for all E-Government projects, despite OMB’s repeated requests to discontinue the report. The E-Government projects date back to the administration of President George W. Bush.

Second, the Small Business Administration would receive another year to collect and use money in its IT modernization working capital fund under the Federal IT Acquisition Reform Act (FITARA). Last year, lawmakers approved the creation of an IT modernization fund with an expiration date of 2022.

According to the December 2018 FITARA scorecard, three other agencies besides SBA—the departments of Homeland Security, Labor and Agriculture—have committed to setting up FITARA working capital funds.

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