New TMF investments boost agency projects in generative AI, digital service delivery, accessibility

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The latest targeted investments from the Technology Modernization Fund support agency efforts to leverage generative artificial intelligence, improve security and enhance digital services, according to a Thursday announcement from the General Services Administration

TMF investments to the Departments of Education, Commerce and State total just under $50 million. 

The State Department received two investments: $18.2 million to increase diplomacy through generative AI and $13.1 million to transition its identity and access management systems to a zero-trust architecture model.

The AI investment is intended to “empower its widely dispersed team members to work more efficiently and improve access to enhanced information resources,” including diplomatic cables, media summaries and reports. On the zero trust investment, State said it is planning to expedite the creation of a comprehensive consolidated identity trust system, as well as centralizing workflows for the onboarding and offboarding process.

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Clare Martorana, the federal CIO and TMF board chair, said in a statement that she’s “thrilled to see our catalytic funding stream powering the use of AI and improving security at the State Department.” 

State recently announced a chatbot for internal uses and revised its public AI use case inventory to remove nine items from the agency website. Additionally, the agency has started to encourage its workforce to use generative AI tools like ChatGPT. 

The Department of Education, meanwhile, is using a $5.9 million allocation to assist the Federal Student Aid office on a new StudentAid.gov feature called “My Activity” to centralize documents and data to track activities and status updates. The FSA is anticipating “a reduction in wait times and the need for customer care inquiries,” per the GSA release. 

Education also recently announced an RFI for cloud computing capabilities for the FSA office, a follow-on contract for its Next Generation Cloud. 

Finally, the Department of Commerce’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration will put its $12 million TMF investment toward modernizing weather.gov through a redesign to “enhance information accessibility” and “establish a sustainable, mobile-first infrastructure.” NOAA reported plans to integrate translation capabilities for underserved communities’ benefit. 

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The release noted that NOAA’s associated application programming interface “faces challenges, causing disruptions in accessing dependable weather information for the American public.”

Martorana said she was “equally excited about the TMF’s two other critical investments — with students getting more modern access to manage their education journeys and the public gaining access to life-saving weather information in an accessible manner for all.”

These investments come after a second appropriations package to fund the government for fiscal year 2024 threatened to claw back $100 million from the TMF. Both the GSA and the Office of Management and Budget have faced challenges in convincing lawmakers to meet funding levels proposed by the Biden administration.

Martorana recently called on Congress to fund the TMF, pointing to the funding vehicle as a way to improve service delivery for the public across the government.


Written by Caroline Nihill

Caroline Nihill is a reporter for FedScoop in Washington, D.C., covering federal IT. Her reporting has included the tracking of artificial intelligence governance from the White House and Congress, as well as modernization efforts across the federal government. Caroline was previously an editorial fellow for Scoop News Group, writing for FedScoop, StateScoop, CyberScoop, EdScoop and DefenseScoop. She earned her bachelor’s in media and journalism from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill after transferring from the University of Mississippi.