IT spending would go beyond OMB request under House’s emergency bill for VA, IHS

“House Democrats are prepared to give federal agencies more IT funding than the White House is seeking to meet the unprecedented demand from teleworking during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

“A House emergency appropriations bill released Monday would increase much of the technology spending the Office of Management and Budget had initially requested in a memo on March 17. The $2.5 trillion legislation, intended to bolster the wavering U.S. economy, differs from the package that Senate Democrats and Trump administration officials have been negotiating, but it’s possible the House proposal could influence that bill.”

“Many agencies have struggled with the strain brought on by a policy of ‘maximum teleworking.’ The bill indicates that the government needs billions of dollars more in IT and cybersecurity services to meet the demand.”

“The Department of Veterans Affairs would receive $3 billion to support telehealth, telework and other IT systems, according to a bill summary, up from an initial $1.2 billion OMB requested for the agency. The VA’s initial request included funds for 180,000 new devices needed to support telehealth and telework. For comparison: the VA’s original Office of Information Technology budget request for all of fiscal 2021 was $4.9 billion. The VA did not respond to a request for comment on what the extra funding might be used for.”

“The Technology Modernization Fund, which Congress has routinely funded below the levels sought by the Trump administration, would get a $3 billion boost to help agencies with digital modernization and teleworking. Agencies apply to have specific projects funded by the TMF, which received just $25 million for fiscal 2020.”

“The Indian Health Service would receive more than $1 billion in total supplemental funding, $125 million for its electronic health records modernization and millions more available for telehealth and telework. The total requested for the agency in OMB’s memo was $532 million…”

“Agencies at the heart of the federal response need extra money for IT, according to the bill. Of the Federal Emergency Management Agency‘s $2.3 billion it would receive if the House’s version remains intact, $45 million would go to”facilities and information technology” needed to respond to the crisis…” Read the full article here.

Source: IT spending would go beyond OMB request under House’s emergency bill – By Jackson Barnett, March 24, 2020. FedScoop.

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