Up to $53 Billion in CARES Act Funding Available
Recent data shows that billions of dollars in CARES Act funding may still be available to local governments. The reported data does not give us a complete picture, so we do not know how much of this funding may still be uncommitted, but there appears to be as much $53.4B still outstanding in the federal CRF pipeline.
Doing the math:
- $25.4B has NOT been awarded to subrecipients
- $28.0B has been awarded, but not yet spent
Now that the spending deadline has been extended to December 31, 2021 for CARES Act funds, it might be worthwhile for local governments to ask their prime recipients (state, county, or major city) about the availability of funding.
Last year we put together an ebook, CARES Act Funds for Cloud Technology, discussing ways governments can leverage cloud technology to build more resilient infrastructure, manage subrecipient grant issuance programs and serve sheltered-in-place residents more effectively.
Now we are closely following the developments in the new administration’s effort to pass the American Rescue Plan, and trying to help everyone keep up with all the rapidly developing
federal action. I myself served in municipal government finance during the Great Recession, and clearly recall the pain of that experience. We, at OpenGov are invested in doing whatever we can to help everyone get through this with as little trauma as possible. These federal dollars can help make the difference.
CARES Act: How much has been awarded
and how much is left
The CARES Act includes strong transparency provisions, leading to reporting on a dedicated website at: PandemicOversight.gov. The site is now updated through December 31, 2020, and includes some interesting news:
- 785 Prime recipients have received $149.5B in Coronavirus Relief Funds. 760 recipients are required to report under the CARES Act.
- 659 prime recipients that reported information received a total of $149B, and awarded $124.1B to 69,532 sub-recipients.
Digging further into data downloaded from the site we see that of the $124.1B that has been awarded to sub-recipients. Of that total $96.1B has been spent according to this reporting.
A note on oversight and transparency
The Pandemic Response Accountability Committee (PRAC) was established by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Security Act (CARES Act) as a committee of the Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency (CIGIE).
The PRAC’s mission is to serve the American public by promoting transparency and the coordinated oversight of the Federal Government’s coronavirus response to prevent and detect fraud, waste, abuse, and mismanagement and to identify and mitigate major risks that cross-program and agency boundaries.
PandemicOversight.gov was created by PRAC to display the details of the $2.6 trillion coronavirus relief spending provided by the CARES Act and three related pieces of coronavirus legislation and information related to the coronavirus response.
CARES Act guidance has been updated in the Federal Register to include the extended deadline and final FAQs, which seem to be largely unchanged from prior publications.
How to use the CARES Act to digitalize your government
In my ebook, CARES Act Funds for Cloud Technology, we describe five ways that OpenGov technology is being put to work with funding from the CARES Act around five broad areas of need relative to the pandemic and recession:
- Subrecipient Grant programs operated by States, counties, and cities to further distribute CARES Act funds to other agencies and businesses and individuals
- Remote-work (telework) upgrades to ERP and financial systems to improve Coronavirus related operating and planning capabilities of grantee governments
- Virtual permitting, licensing, and code enforcement (“PLC”) services necessary to the continuity of government during the pandemic
- Virtual budget collaboration and community engagement across virtual communities
- Transparency in CARES Act reporting and related program administration
OpenGov has invested tens of millions of dollars over the last eight years to improve the software available for local governments and state agencies. We are gratified to see federal recognition of the immediate need for updating government’s operating technology incorporated into the CARES Act. To recap some of the relevant aspects of the legislation:
- On March 27, Congress passed the CARES Act which established a new $150 billion Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF) for state, county and municipal governments to address necessary expenditures incurred due to the COVID-19 public health emergency.
- The U.S. Treasury Department oversees and administers CRF payments to state and local governments. If a state or eligible unit of local government does not spend all CRF payments that are allocated by December 2021, Treasury will recoup these funds.
- If a unit of local government has a population of less than 500,000, it cannot receive direct payments from the U.S. Treasury. However, a state that receives a CRF payment is allowed to transfer funds to a unit of local government.
- Governments are responsible for making determinations as to what expenditures are necessary due to the public health emergency with respect to COVID-19 and do not need to submit proposed expenditures to the Treasury Department.
- A county that received a payment may transfer funds to a city, town, or school district within the county and a county or city may transfer funds to its state, provided that the transfer qualifies as a necessary expenditure incurred due to the public health emergency and meets the other criteria of section 601(d) of the Social Security Act outlined in the Guidance.
It has been reported that representatives from FEMA have indicated that software purchases may be reimbursable under the CARES Act if they address three key characteristics of eligibility:
- Helps identify the service impacts of COVID-19
- Helps project and identify revenue shortfalls caused by the COVID-19 recession
- Helps address continuity of operations planning
As we noted above, with the spending deadline extended to the end of this year it might be worthwhile for local governments to do some research on PRAC’s website, which has a list of all the CRF prime recipients (state, county, or major city) and the total each has awarded to their sub-recipients as of December 31, 2020.
If there appears to be funding that has not been awarded in your area why not ask your prime recipient about the process for applying for any currently available remaining unspent funds?
After CARES: the American Rescue Plan
Also you might want to start getting ready for the new American Rescue Plan as we suggest here, which includes $130 Billion in new funding for local governments. We are following this legislation through congress and will issue further updates as it moves through the approval process.
As we mentioned earlier, OpenGov’s ebook, CARES Act Funds for Cloud Technology, explores five specific use-cases for the application of CRF funding to the needs of local government so you can make the case for your own initiatives. Click the button below to read the eBook.