Project Prioritization & Repayment Flexibility Criteria
Please reference the below when filling out the TMF Initial Project Proposal Template.
Initial Project Proposals (IPPs) will be reviewed on a rolling basis. If you intend to submit a proposal, we encourage you to notify the TMF Program Management Office at firstname.lastname@example.org early so that the PMO is able to support your team through the entire TMF application and review process. If an IPP is advanced to the next stage, agency teams will have three weeks to submit a Full Project Proposal (FPP).
Prioritization of Funding
To ensure the Administration is balancing immediate response needs and congressional intent for the additional TMF funding in the American Rescue Plan, the Board intends to prioritize projects that cut across agencies, address immediate security gaps, and improve the public’s ability to access government services:
- Modernizing high priority systems: The Fund will support investments that modernize and support priority agency assets and services. This may include systems already designated as High Value Assets (HVAs) that have significant impact, or longstanding security issues.
- Cybersecurity: The Fund will support investments that move the government to a consistent baseline of maturity in cybersecurity and privacy protections, including addressing gaps uncovered in the recent SolarWinds incident. This may include identity, credential, and access management, as well as moving towards a “zero trust” architecture – while maintaining the capabilities and performance that agencies need to deliver modern services and succeed at their mission.
- Public-facing digital services: The Fund will support the creation or modernization of digital services with dramatic benefits to increasing access and equity, reducing fraud, and improving service delivery, including core issues exposed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Cross-government collaboration / scalable services: The Fund will support public-facing or agency-facing shared services, including technical infrastructure that can offer agency technology teams a scalable, secure foundation for the rapid creation and modernization of digital services.
The Board is aware that requiring full repayment to the TMF has been a barrier to the submission of a diverse set of project proposals. The Board welcomes the submission of proposals meeting the priorities above, even if they do not have a financial return that supports full repayment.
As a general rule: if your agency has a project that would produce significant positive impact or would address critical security or capability gaps, we strongly encourage you to submit an initial proposal to the Board for consideration.
The MGT Act provides the GSA Administrator and OMB Director with the authority to establish and amend the terms of repayment to the TMF. Extending repayment flexibility to agencies gives the Fund the ability to make smart investments and maximize the benefit to the government and public. It allows the Fund to continue investing in projects with (i) the highest probability of success and (ii) the highest value to the public and/or highest impact security outcomes, regardless of whether cost savings are expected.
The American Rescue Plan is emergency legislation that provided $1 billion in TMF funds to address urgent IT modernization challenges, bolster cybersecurity defenses following the SolarWinds incident, and improve the delivery of COVID-19 relief. To meet these goals, the Fund will invest in a diverse portfolio of projects having varying levels of repayment risk and payment flexibility, and expects to recover a portion of the American Rescue Plan funds.
- Full Repayment The TMF has historically operated under a full repayment model, and will continue to do so for projects that yield financial savings realized by the proposing agency. The Board expects this to apply to single-agency investments with direct cost savings, such as replacing a legacy system with one that can be operated and maintained more efficiently.
- Partial Repayment. The Board anticipates a range of proposals meriting partial repayment, depending on the positive impact to the public and agency operations, alignment with overall TMF priorities, and the likelihood that the proposing agency can realize financial savings.
- When requesting partial repayment, agencies should indicate whether the proposal can be made financially recoverable at a 25%, 50%, or 75% repayment level.
- Minimal Repayment. GSA and OMB will consider approving the most flexible payment arrangements for proposals that tackle the most urgent IT cybersecurity and modernization problems facing our government, and where cost savings are not easily realized by the proposing agency. This includes those proposals that help agencies respond to gaps exposed by the SolarWinds incident and meet the demands of the COVID-19 pandemic, and can include projects not included in the proposed Cyber Reserve funding in the FY2022 budget.
- Shared services that promise to address high-urgency areas across multiple agencies will receive high priority, and may receive TMF funds that allow the deployment and growth of these services over multiple years. However, agencies are expected to use this runway to budget for the sustained reimbursement of these shared services once these TMF funds are fully used.
Repayment Determination Process
TMF projects are proposed in a two-phase process. The Initial Project Proposal (IPP) is brief, and gives the Board the information they need to make an initial determination. The Full Project Proposal (FPP) provides the Board a detailed project analysis. The IPP should include basic high-level analysis that indicates whether the agency can repay the full TMF award amount or whether repayment flexibility is appropriate. In the FPP, agencies should provide detailed financial information and project impact analysis. The agencies’ analysis in the FPP should include a proposed repayment framework, or a case for why repayment flexibility should be extended, based on the repayment considerations above.
The Board will evaluate and recommend funding the proposals as appropriate. GSA, in coordination with OMB, will approve the terms of repayment. Repayment may not exceed 5 years unless approved by OMB. These process updates recognize the need to accelerate the project proposal process while continuing to enable a rigorous Board review.