The American Rescue Plan (ARPA) was signed into law on March 11, 2021. Like the previous iterations of COVID-19 recovery bills, ARPA created programs and allocated funding “to address continuing pandemic-related crises, and fund recovery efforts as the United States begins to emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic.”
For state and local governments, institutions of higher education, and community organizations, ARPA funding was established to equip them with capital to solve problems they deemed necessary. With very open guidance from the Fed, these funds were able to be utilized by groups for whatever purpose aimed at recovery or infrastructure improvement. The goals of these projects are widely ranging even among similar entities, but reporting and the process difficulties they present are very similar.
ARPA funds are $350 billion in emergency funding for state, local, territorial, and Tribal governments created by the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 in order to address the rising costs and diminished revenues resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. ARPA funding included:
These funds were intended specifically to support the public health response and lay the foundation for a strong and equitable economic recovery. Funding was set to assist governments in covering costs incurred from the public health emergency and to provide support recovery through assistance to households, small businesses and nonprofits, impacted industries (especially tourism and hospitality), and essential workers. ARPA funding also provided resources for governments to invest in infrastructure, including water, sewer, and broadband services. Finally, all ARPA funding needs to be spent in its entirety by the end of 2024. The ARPA also established defined reporting requirements for all requesting entities.
With the resources to address community problems, identifying what issues to address becomes the easy part. The question is how entities are able to roll out these programs rapidly and effectively. Tracking and managing all aspects of the project goals and processes is a significant hurdle and is time-consuming and difficult. In many cases, these complex problems require disparate systems to communicate with one another, especially when citizens need to access systems. Agile platforms, like Quickbase, allow for these new projects and processes to be rolled out securely and easily.
ARP funds began being distributed by the Treasury Department in Q2 2021 and most groups have already received at least half of their allocated funds. Examples of what is planned and what is being accomplished with this funding are becoming very evident.
The majority of ARPA money were designated as State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds (SLFRF). The SLFRF are earmarked for state and local governments to address COVID-specific costs (like testing, PPE, vaccination operationalization, outbreak response), infrastructure improvements, and economic recovery efforts. This funding has also been utilized to incentivize citizens and government employees to get the vaccine. Here’s how some localities are using their funding:
To serve colleges and universities affected by the COVID-19 pandemic the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund III (HEERF III) was authorized by the American Rescue Plan (ARP) providing $39.6 billion in support to institutions of higher education. The purpose of HEERF III was to serve students and ensure learning continues during the COVID-19 pandemic. This was an additional allocation of funding after CARES Act (HEERF I) and CRRSAA (HEERF II) relief funding bringing the total or all emergency funds to $76.2 billion. Schools are using this money to make up for lost revenue, make campuses more COVID safe, improve facilities, hire staff, and, most importantly, help students.
Healthcare groups were clearly the most severely affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. The pandemic has pushed their capacity for care and resources to their limits. ARPA funding was funneled through state and local governments to support vaccine access, COVID treatment capacity, healthcare accessibility, staffing, and program development.
Quickbase gives ARPA program administrators the ability to build custom, flexible workflows easily. For public access, create digital forms for citizen inputs or link between project management systems to centralize all critical information. A Quickbase application also surfaces all project data in a single location. Agility platforms allow users to track the very specific items they need and make quarterly and annual reporting a breeze.