The Technology Modernization Fund (TMF) said today it is targeting $100 million in short-term grants to federal agencies that want to undertake projects to improve the customer experience with government.
The announcement of funding plans today by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the General Services Administration (GSA) – which administers the TMF – says the “funding will support innovative technology projects focused on reducing burdens on the American public and the federal workers who serve them.
Improving citizen services is one of the TMF’s four main goals in evaluating plans to distribute among agencies the $1 billion infusion the fund received from Congress last year. . Along with improvements to citizen services, priority areas also include agency projects to improve cybersecurity, modernize “high priority” systems, and create more cross-government collaboration.
TMF currently has more than $700 million in its coffers – both from the 2021 infusion and the previous year’s allocations – and estimates it has awarded around $400 million in grants out of the $1 billion received. Last year. While some of those awards are for projects aimed at improving citizen services, more than half of them have been for cybersecurity-related projects, including work on Login.gov and awards to agencies. individuals for zero-trust security projects.
CX Policy Drivers
The focus on improving customer service already carries a lot of weight in federal policy, including President Biden’s December 2021 executive order on improving the customer experience.
This order, among other measures, calls for an overhaul of the existing USA.gov website as a central “digital federal gateway” for the public to access all government benefits, services and programs. The order provides that citizens can use this gateway “with just 1 to 3 clicks, taps, or commands from the USA.gov homepage, without browsing duplicate and outdated federal websites.”
The executive order further directs federal agencies to “put people at the center of everything government does.” First, the order sets out 36 customer experience improvement “commitments” across 17 federal agencies, “all of which are aimed at improving people’s lives and the delivery of government services.”
The December 2021 order closely followed the November 2021 release of the Presidential Management Program “vision” document that identifies CX improvements – along with workforce and acquisition issues – as centerpieces of the administration’s agenda moving forward.
The EO’s focus on improving services to citizens aligns perfectly with broad policy goals laid out in numerous speeches before and since by Federal CIO Clare Martorana.
Shortly after the White House released the customer experience order last December, Martorana told MeriTalk’s TMF Forward virtual event that future rounds of TMF awards will likely be more focused on projects that will further the improvement of services to citizens.
Today’s announcement of the $100 million TMF set aside for customer service projects seems to lead towards that goal.
In its announcement today, the fund said its board of directors, which evaluates agency project proposals, “will prioritize investment in projects that span multiple agencies and reduce lead times. frustrating waits, duplicate paperwork and bureaucratic hurdles that people too often face when interacting with their government.” Along the same lines, TMF said its board “will also give priority to projects aimed at improving a broad range of critical federal government capabilities and systems.”
Renewed call for proposals
Federal agencies that wish to apply for a portion of the CX-focused TMF’s $100 million in funding — and who have a strong public exposure to citizen service — are urged to do so quickly.
“All federal agencies that provide information, benefits, services, and programs to the public can apply for this funding by Monday, August 1 for expedited review, or by September 30, on an ongoing basis.” , the OMB and GSA said.
“All federal agencies and High Impact Service Providers (HISPs), which serve the largest percentage of people, conduct the largest volume of transactions each year, and have an outsized impact on the lives of the people they serve, are eligible to apply for designated funding,” the agencies said.
The OMB and GSA said TMF’s board selection criteria for this series of customer experience-focused projects will include:
- Projects backed by customer research and data;
- Projects that “cut across agencies and systems, close immediate security gaps, and improve the public’s ability to access and manage government services”;
- Agencies that have technology teams and systems capable of rapidly designing, prototyping and deploying modern digital tools and services based on human-centered design”; and
- Projects that have “measurable goals to ensure TMF’s investments address real customer issues and gaps in accessibility and equity.”
“Federal service delivery has not kept pace with public needs and expectations,” Federal CIO Martorana said in a statement today.
“The American people deserve a government that puts people at the center of everything it does,” she said. “With this funding, we will deploy secure technology that lowers costs for agencies, eliminates burdens on the federal workforce and those they serve, and powers services that meet public expectations.”
“Government technology and websites can and should work better for the people and communities we serve,” commented GSA Administrator Robin Carnahan.
“TMF’s targeted funding to make life easier for them when they need government services is a no-brainer,” she said, adding, “It’s also a smart way to invest taxpayers’ money. to ensure that the American people get the most for their money.”