House infrastructure bill includes over $3 billion for federal tech
NOTE: This article first appeared on FCW.com.
The House Oversight and Reform Committee voted to approve over $3 billion for federal tech initiatives, including another billion dollar investment into the Technology Modernization Fund, on Thursday.
They’re tucked into the committee’s part of the budget reconciliation package Democrats are using to enact the Biden administration’s Build Back Better infrastructure agenda, along with another bipartisan infrastructure bill. The committee voted to approve their committee print after a markup on Thursday.
“If the technology infrastructure for delivering federal assistance is unreliable or unavailable, then no amount of policy or expertise, political will, or subject matter expertise can save this nation,” said Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.), chair of the Subcommittee on Government Operations, during the markup. “These IT investments will modernize legacy systems and help us craft the workforce we need to drive government into the digital government future.”
During the markup, the committee approved an amendment from Connolly with several IT measures, including $1 billion in funding for TMF, which received the same amount from the American Rescue Plan. Currently, the board that oversees the fund is working to implement that funding.
Connolly’s amendment also includes $2 billion for the General Services Administration’s Federal Citizen Services Fund, an office charged with supporting interagency IT projects ranging from login.gov to FedRAMP.
The amendment also includes $350 million for the Office of Management and Budget’s Information Technology Oversight and Reform account, which contributes funding for U.S. Digital Service staffing and administration.
Outside of that amendment, the bill also has $60 million to the National Archives and Records Administration to clear backlogs and improve cybersecurity.
NARA’s National Personnel Records Center holds veterans records that are key parts of the disability compensation and pension claims for veterans. The majority of them are paper-based. During the pandemic, shuttered centers have contributed to backlogs of records requests, which has in turn increased a backlog of pending claims at the Veterans Benefits Administration.
The agency is partnering with the VA for mass digitization of NPRC holdings, which began Sept 1 and will ramp up this month, according to a NARA spokesperson.
The NRPC is also developing functionality to support in-stack digitization, which “will provide NPRC staff with the ability to digitize documents in records storage areas immediately upon retrieving a record from storage,” they said. “The digitized documents will be ingested into its production system and made available for the remote servicing of reference requests.”
The bill also includes $12 billion to electrify the General Services Administration and United States Postal Service vehicle fleets.
Natalie Alms is a staff writer at FCW covering the federal workforce. She is a recent graduate of Wake Forest University and has written for the Salisbury (N.C.) Post. Connect with Natalie on Twitter at @AlmsNatalie.