Letter to Senate Appropriations on the Technology Modernization Fund

Download Full Letter March 09, 2020   Senator John Kennedy Chairman, Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government 416 Russell Senate Office Building Washington, DC 20510   Dear Senator Kennedy: The Alliance for Digital Innovation (ADI) is a non-profit coalition of innovative, commercial companies that serves as a unified voice for commercial innovators with a mission of ensuring the public sector benefits from existing and emerging commercial technologies. ADI engages with government thought leaders to share emerging commercial technologies and to advocate for the removal of institutional and bureaucratic barriers to the operation of a modern digital government. True digital transformation and the adoption of modern agile development and procurement processes, coupled with the decommissioning of current legacy systems, is an often time consuming endeavor that crosses budget cycles and appropriations calendars. Even when planned for and executed wisely, these worthwhile efforts to provide better, more secure citizen services through commercial capabilities are often hampered by inflexibilities in spending single year funds. Congress, recognizing both the need for information technology (IT) modernization and the need for better financing options to achieve true transformation, pass the Modernizing Government Technology Act (MGT Act).[1] ADI has strongly supported the Administration’s execution of the Technology Modernization Fund (TMF) [2], which was created by the MGT Act, and we write to you today to firmly express our support for full funding for the TMF in this year’s appropriations process. The TMF has been a vital tool to assist agencies in prioritizing and tackling some of their most complex, multi-year modernization objectives – exactly the kind that are difficult to plan for and execute during the normal Federal budgeting process. Agencies go to the TMF not just for additional funds, but for the deep technical expertise of the TMF Board and the digital services, acquisitions, and budgeting experts at the General Services Administration (GSA) who support the program. Great access to flexible capital, greater oversight and accountability, and stronger technical support from GSA have enabled all projects funded by the TMF thus far to be on schedule, under their original financial request, and directly use commercial capabilities to deliver modern technology solutions – all key reasons why the TMF was originally enacted and appropriated. The TMF has showed tremendous value with the amount of funding it has received to date, even with some repayments coming back into the fund from initial project investments. However, the limited funding is keeping the TMF from tackling the larger, more complex, and most pressing IT modernization projects – and without a significant corpus of funds necessary to approve some of the more difficult projects being submitted, the TMF will not be able to truly dent the over $92 billion in yearly Federal IT spending and start shifting taxpayer dollars more effectively to modern, agile technologies. Ultimately, IT modernization is about moving agencies off of insecure and increasingly expensive legacy systems and ensuring modern commercial technology is being acquired and used to deliver better value and even better citizen experiences to taxpayers. In order to truly enable the government to modernize at scale and better leverage cutting edge American commercial technology,  ADI strongly encourages the Subcommittee to provide the full amount requested in the President Fiscal Year 2021 Budget to the TMF. Thank you very much for your time and consideration. If ADI members or staff can provide any more information or insights to you or your staff, please feel free to contact me at (202) 207-1120.   Sincerely: Matthew T. Cornelius Executive Director Alliance for Digital Innovation  
[1] Pub. L. No. 115-91, National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018, Title X, Subtitle G (§§ 1076 through 1078). [2] Ibid § 1078