ISOO Notice Recommends TMF Support to Digitize Classification Management, and Declassification of Historically Significant Records

Issued this week, Information Security Oversight Office (ISOO) Notice 2021-03 reinforces the recommendation of the FY 2020 ISOO Annual Report that federal agencies apply for grants available from the Technology Modernization Fund (TMF) in support cross-agency projects for the development of government-wide classification and declassification programs to process electronic information.

First authorized by the 2017 Modernizing Government Technology Act, on March 10, 2021, the TMF received an additional $1 billion for government technology modernization projects under the American Rescue Plan (Pub L. No. 117-2). That legislation also authorized the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the General Services Administration (GSA) to delay or suspend the repayment of TMF grants, as had been previously required.

On May 4, 2021, the OMB and GSA updated the model for distributing TMF grants with a shift to proposals that would improve information security in digital systems, as well as providing for partial and minimal repayment of TMF grants for certain projects. The new focus highlights the need for modernization in four categories:

  • Modernizing high-priority systems;
  • Cybersecurity;
  • Public-facing digital services; and
  • Cross-Government services and infrastructure.

ISOO Notice 2021-03 recommends the TMF model for government technology modernization as an ideal vehicle for supporting projects that would develop networked systems to improve classification and declassification policies and processes, as well as controlled unclassified information policies and processes, through the implementation of advanced technologies across the executive branch.

To be considered by the TMF Board for projects that should begin before the end of FY 2022, ISOO recommends that agency heads, Chief Information Officers, Chief Data Officers, and other federal staff engaged in information security operations and acquisitions apply for funding as soon as possible. For updates on project awards granted by the TMF, as well as details on TMF project guidelines, repayment flexibility criteria, the TMF project proposal template, and where to submit proposals, see the TMF website at https://tmf.cio.gov/.

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