State and local governments struggled to spend billions in funding from the CARES Act and Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations (CRRSA) Act of last year. As they prepare to allocate a third round of funding worth trillions from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), state and local governments are still set back by lack of proper framework to distribute large amounts of funding to assist their constituents with unemployment benefits, rental assistance, medical bills, and more. Without comprehensive data collection and decision processes to track the flow of data from constituents to web forms to services, distributing funds has proved to be a slow and complicated process.
Baltimore Needs a Streamlined Application and Eligibility Processing System for Rental Assistance.
Earlier this year, White House officials accused states and cities of being “too slow to act” in distributing pandemic relief funding for rental assistance. Maryland has distributed only 15% of the federal funds received for its Emergency Rental Assistance Program. State officials say distributing the money has been a strenuous process due to changing eligibility criteria, varying vulnerability factors, and confusing application processes – all which have created additional administrative work. Officials also say that inadequate local infrastructure has made the disbursement of funds difficult to track. Read more about it here.
Oklahoma Relies on Outside Consulting Firms to Allocate and Track Relief Fund Spending.
State and local governments across the country are seeking help from contractors to help with tracking aid and filing quarterly federal reporting requirements. An audit report found that Oklahoma did not spend or report on nearly $6.2 million in CARES funding. To ensure ARPA funding is properly accounted for, outside consulting firms are assisting Oklahoma in allocating its $3.2 billion in funding. Solicitations are being accepted through an online project request form, and a consulting firm will vet the projects and ensure that spending follows federal requirements. Read more about it here.
Smaller Counties Are Declining ARPA Funding for Lack of Data Infrastructure Necessary to Track Spending.
The U.S. Department of the Treasury is urging local governments to engage their communities in deciding how to spend ARPA funds. This means that officials must create new systems of data collection and decision-making to build public input and transparency programs. Some local governments believe that federal funding will create additional overhead that outweighs its benefits. In addition, improper spending means that governments must repay the funds to the federal government. Click here to read about how small towns such as Lakin, Kansas have opted out of accepting federal funds.
Interested in learning more about how a data collection platform can map out complex processes, combining web forms, emails, integrations, conditional logic, and more into a visual roadmap of tasks and actions? Click here.