As new U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration begins, the top priority is enacting a brand-new $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package, the American Recovery Plan. Amidst the individual monetary programs and vaccine acceleration plans, a little-known yet critical government IT program seeks a necessary injection of financial support. Enacted in 2017, the Technology Modernization Fund (TMF) is an innovative funding initiative to improve the federal government’s IT infrastructure and cybersecurity.
Although the TMF has been appropriated $25 million in funding for 2021, the new relief package includes a $9 billion infusion into the fund, in part to launch new shared systems within the Cybersecurity and Information Security Agency (CISA) and General Services Administration (GSA), as well as continuing federal IT modernization projects. The addition to the relief bill is supported by both the President and several Congress members, noting massive failures in cybersecurity and financial assistance delivery experienced during the coronavirus pandemic.
The federal government is still reeling from the SolarWinds software breach that exposed several departments’ IT infrastructures, which could potentially result in significant data theft or covert surveillance. An influx of funding into the TMF would accelerate the IT recovery by initiating an immediate hiring spree in the United States Digital Services (USDS) agency and other departments responsible for the government’s internal information technology.
Funding is also designated to quickly and effectively implement new shared cloud services and cybersecurity networks between departments, which President Biden considers a matter of national security. Improved government IT is also needed in the continuing fight against COVID-19, including more accurately tracking federal vaccine distribution.
While several positions within the U.S. government’s digital divisions remain vacant, the proposed increase in TMF funding indicates a commitment by the new administration to IT modernization and enhanced cybersecurity infrastructures across federal agencies—and a dedication to bringing the U.S. government to the top of the international tech landscape.