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The Technology Modernization Fund (TMF) is currently seeking proposals for artificial intelligence-related investments under the Biden administration’s recent executive order on implementing AI in federal agencies. The fund offers several paths to funding to help agencies operate better, improve coordination between existing programs, and modernize legacy systems. Proposals seeking $6 million or less and having a project timeline of no more than 1.5 years will receive an expedited review process for investment.

According to an announcement from the GSA, all proposals must include a clear plan for user testing, risk mitigation, evaluation metrics, and senior executive support. Agencies have flexibility in how they approach their project and potential solution. The use of the TMF has the potential to accelerate AI usage in government.

Recent research by the GAO found that there are over 228 AI applications in use in federal agencies, more than 500 in the planning stages, and about another 500 in the research or exploratory stage. However, the report also cautioned that the government “must manage its use of AI in a responsible way to minimize risk, achieve intended outcomes, and avoid unintended consequences.”

The issue has also attracted the attention of both the House and Senate, with a bill (S-1865) having cleared the committee level in the latter to require agencies to be more transparent when using automated intelligence and systems such as facial recognition software to interact with the public or to make decisions. This bill aims to promote accountability and prevent misuse of these technologies.

The TMF is a central government-wide fund designed to provide up-front money for IT projects rather than stretch out spending over time, often at a higher cost. Allocations mostly have gone toward projects to replace legacy systems. With this latest round of funding focused on AI-related projects, it is clear that technology is becoming increasingly important for government operations and decision making.

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