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Karen Evans and Mark Forman, former E-gov administrators at the Office of Management and Budget, discuss optimizing investment in IT modernization and digital transformation at agencies

The Technology Modernization Fund will not get a $9 billion boost that was in the original version of the pandemic relief bill. It is not the first time the fund has been targeted for cuts from Congress.

Karen Evans and Mark Forman, former E-gov administrators at the Office of Management and Budget, joined Francis Rose from “Government Matters” to discuss this news.

Evans said the lack of additional funding for the TMF is a factor agencies should include when planning for IT modernization and digital transformation going forward.

“It really does help a department or an agency ease some of that burden outside the regular budget process, so I am a little disappointed it’s not included,” Evans said. She cited the example of a critical modernization project of Customs and Border Protection that is being funded by the TMF.

Forman said agencies can still find money in the budget for modernization and transformation. The TMF requires monetary payback, and the ROI from these programs often must be seen in terms of mission and customer service improvments, he explained.

“In the July 2020 version of the [A-11] budgeting document, I think there are three paths that are clearly laid out,” Forman said. These three areas include the traditional path (making a business case based on closing a performance gap in an agency program), the evidence-based policy arena, and 21st century idea implementation. “I’m very hopeful that the Biden administration will create those paths for the funding requests coming to OMB this year,” said Forman.

Forman added that there must be greater collaboration between the CIOs and the people responsible for performance improvement. Evans agreed, stating, “that integration, especially as it relates to program performance, really has to happen so that you can justify the investments in your mission budgets, or for that matter, justifying the investments in infrastructure.”

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