CARES Act - What Local Governments needs to know?
As part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, your municipality might be eligible for funding to be used to upgrade your technology to assist your response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
What is the CARES Act?
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Trump on March 27, 2020. This over $2 trillion economic relief package provides fast and direct economic assistance for American workers, families, and small businesses, and preserves jobs for our American industries. It also established a $150 billion Coronavirus Relief Fund to provide payments to State, Local, and Tribal governments navigating the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak. As of June 2020,the U.S. Department of the Treasury (the Treasury) has made payments from the Fund to states and eligible units of local government; the District of Columbia and U.S. Territories (the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the United States Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands); and Tribal governments.
CARES Act Extended!
Congress recently reached an agreement on a $900 billion pandemic relief stimulus bill! Section 1001 extends the date by which state and local governments must make expenditures with CARES Act Coronavirus Relief Fund awards from Dec. 30, 2020, to Dec. 31, 2021.
The stimulus will provide funding to extend unemployment benefits, the eviction moratorium, federal student loan forbearance, and will provide a new round of stimulus checks. Notably, the 12/30/2020 deadline for the CARES Act’s Coronavirus Relief Fund has been extended for one year. This leaves significantly more time for state and local governments to leverage this existing direct federal assistance to purchase new equipment and have it installed or moved on-site before the deadline. Once the deadline passes, all Coronavirus Relief Fund dollars will go back to the U.S. Department of Treasury. In addition, the framework for this legislation contains substantial funding for state and local governments for specific public services, such as transportation, broadband, education, and public health.
Qualifying expenses for the Cares Act:
- Are necessary expenditures incurred due to the COVID-19 public health emergency
- Were not accounted for in the budget most recently approved as of March 27, 2020
- Were incurred between March 1 and December 30, 2021
According to the U.S. Treasury Department, CARES Act funds can cover software costs that “facilitate compliance with COVID-19-related public health measures.” This includes the following eligible uses:
- Technology that improves remote-working capabilities for government employees.
- Technology that notifies the community about COVID-19 updates like Notifications and CRM from GOGov.
- Technology that allows essential government functions possible while supporting social distancing.
Can I use the CARES Act funding for GOGov solutions?
From our understanding, it's possible. It's simply a matter of how you're leveraging the software to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and keep your community safe. (And, as with all funding of this nature, you should check with your city or county leadership.)
What can a municipality do to give itself the best possible chance of being approved for funding?
To put yourself in the best position to be eligible for funding:
1. Clearly state how the new software addresses your new needs for online administrative workflows and remote citizen access to government services. Start by explaining the specific challenges you are facing ensuring business continuity and citizen service during the COVID-19 crisis. Be sure to clarify how the hurdle is the direct result of the pandemic.
2. Next, describe how you intend to use the new software to ensure business continuity during the pandemic.
- Describe any relevant software feature deficiencies that are creating barriers to accomplishing tasks
- Explain what common features your existing software lacks that, if available, would expedite administrative workflows
- If your need is to implement a new system, rather than replace an existing one, explain how the use of the software in place of manual, paper-based workflows will help you overcome challenges and better serve citizens.
3. Finally, specify the remaining two components critical to be eligible for funding:
- That the technology purchase was not accounted for in the budget most recently approved as of March 27, 2020, and
- That your goal is to incur costs associated with the purchase before December 30, 2020
Check out our CARES Act guide and see how the Cares Act can help you today.