GSA Highlights Progress on Citizen-Facing Digital Services, Cybersecurity in First Year of American Rescue Plan
WASHINGTON – Ahead of the first anniversary of the signing of the American Rescue Plan, legislation which has been the key driver of a strong economic recovery, provided the tools needed to fight the pandemic, and made long-term investments to revitalize the local economy in communities around the country, the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) highlighted some of the key ways these investments are driving progress on technology modernization and making digital services simpler and more secure across government.
The American Rescue Plan signed by President Biden on March 11, 2021, included $150 million for the Federal Citizen Services Fund (FCSF) and $1 billion for the Technology Modernization Fund (TMF).
“From diversifying the federal technology workforce to bolstering our country’s cybersecurity, the American Rescue Plan has enabled transformative investments that will pay dividends for years to come,” said GSA Administrator Robin Carnahan. “A simple, streamlined and secure digital infrastructure is critical to delivering the services and benefits Americans need, and the American Rescue Plan took major strides toward that goal. We look forward to building on this progress with reliable, secure, and intuitive digital services that improve the lives of all Americans.”
The Technology Modernization Fund has invested in 9 projects totaling over $320 million since passage of the ARP. Examples of TMF investments include:
- Improving citizen data protections. The TMF has made multiple investments to bolster cybersecurity at agencies that handle large volumes of personal information. Tens of millions of people – from federal student loan borrowers to Selective Service enrollees, federal employees, and retirees – will have their information better protected at the Department of Education, Office of Personnel Management, Selective Service System, and GSA.
- Strengthening governmentwide collaboration. The TMF is making strategic investments that cut across government silos. On zero trust, the TMF connected three agency project teams to create a cybersecurity cohort. This cohort meets regularly to share their progress and document lessons learned for other agencies considering similar projects – thus amplifying the impact of ARP funding on cybersecurity across government.
- Advancing public-facing digital services. The TMF has made investments to improve how the public interfaces with government services. People will be able to access public services and benefits more easily and equitably through Login.gov’s authentication and identity verification options with increased cybersecurity protections for current and future users. Investment in the Southwest Border Technology Integration Program will speed up and secure border processing by digitizing paper-based operations and improving data sharing capabilities between DHS and its partner agencies.
“We’ve rapidly scaled up the TMF in the year since the ARP’s passage, with more investment in critical technology modernization projects than the previous three years combined,” said TMF Executive Director Raylene Yung. “The TMF is in place to serve as a catalyst – to show others what’s possible with the technology and teams we have today – and to scale secure, innovative practices across government. Our recent investments are a great example of how TMF-backed projects can be more than the sum of their parts: By identifying cross-cutting opportunities for collaboration through cohorts and shared services, these investments have a multiplier effect and help move us toward an equitable, effective, and accountable government that delivers results for all.”
The ARP also made critical investments in the FCSF, which enables public access and engagement with the government digitally through an array of public and agency-facing products, services, and programs. The FCSF initiatives make government services more accessible, efficient, and effective with modern applications, personnel, and software solutions.
“These investments aren’t just about technology but what tech can do for people: families who got easier access to the child tax credit, homeowners who need mortgage relief, and the millions of people who deserve accessible and secure government services,” said Dave Zvenyach, Technology Transformation Services Director. “We look forward to continuing to deploy these dollars in impactful ways that generate value and improve the lives of the public.”
Examples of how GSA has implemented ARP investments through the Federal Citizen Services Fund include:
- Providing resources to assist families eligible for the Child Tax Credit. By funding the FCSF, the American Rescue Plan helped GSA’s Technology Transformation Services (TTS), in collaboration with the White House/U.S. Digital Service and the Department of the Treasury, to expand awareness of the increased and expanded Child Tax Credit (CTC). The effort included creating and distributing content for ChildTaxCredit.gov, back-to-school outreach toolkits, FAQ documents, and guidance in multiple languages to increase awareness and access to the CTC. Overall, the CTC reached more than 61 Million children in December and cut monthly child poverty by 30%.
- Strengthening and diversifying the federal technology workforce through the U.S. Digital Corps. Funding from the American Rescue Plan, with considerations for diversity, equity, and inclusion, allowed GSA’s FCSF to launch the U.S. Digital Corps (USDC), the first-ever program for early-career technologists to work across the federal government to modernize and simplify services for the public. After an overwhelming response from over 1,000 applicants and with 70 agencies interested in hosting Fellows, the first cohort of around 30 U.S. Digital Corps Fellows will begin work in June 2022.
- Reimagining USAGov to expand its role in providing trusted access to government information and services. Funded in part by ARP, USA.gov will be redesigned to become an even more centralized and streamlined resource. User testing for the updated website was recently completed and principles of diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility were incorporated in its design. There will be “no wrong door” for the public to engage with the government and access the information and resources it needs.
- Learning what works to support equitable delivery of the ARP. GSA’s Office of Evaluation Sciences (OES) is collaborating with federal agencies to support equitable outcomes through ARP funds and programs. A set of new evaluations seeks to better understand how to improve awareness, access, and allocation of ARP programs with equity goals. The evaluations will be intentional and strategic in building evidence to understand the role of those programs and supported interventions in improving outcomes for historically underserved populations.
About GSA: GSA provides centralized procurement for the federal government, managing a nationwide real estate portfolio of more than 370 million rentable square feet and overseeing approximately $75 billion in annual contracts. GSA’s mission is to deliver value and savings in real estate, acquisition, technology, and other mission-support services across government, in support of the Biden-Harris administration’s priorities. For more information, visit GSA.gov and follow us at @USGSA.