In March 2021, the United States Congress passed the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), a comprehensive and ambitious economic stimulus package aimed at addressing the unprecedented challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. With a total budget of $1.9 trillion, ARPA represents a significant investment in revitalizing the economy, supporting struggling households, and bolstering public health efforts.
ARAP Spending Details
One significant component of ARPA is the Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds, which allocates $350 billion in emergency funding to state, local, territorial, and tribal governments. The aim is to help these entities respond to the economic and public health challenges brought about by the pandemic. Here are some key details about the allocation and use of these funds:
State and Local Allocation: State governments, along with the District of Columbia, are set to receive $195.3 billion in two disbursements. This approach allows for flexibility in addressing immediate needs while also planning for longer-term recovery strategies. Territories will receive a total of $4.5 billion in a single payment.
Obligation and Expenditure Deadlines: The urgency embedded in ARPA's design is reflected in its spending deadline framework. Recipients of the funds, including states and territories, are required to obligate the funds by December 31, 2024. This means that they must have a plan or commitment for how the funds will be used by this date. The funds must be spent by December 31, 2026. This timeframe is designed to ensure that the money is injected into the economy relatively quickly to support recovery efforts.
Permissible Uses of Funds: The ARPA outlines specific permissible uses for the fiscal recovery funds, including responding to the public health emergency or its negative economic impacts, providing premium pay to essential workers, investing in water, sewer, or broadband infrastructure, and addressing disparities that were exacerbated by the pandemic.
Accountability and Reporting: Recipients of the funds are required to report regularly on how the money is being used, ensuring transparency and accountability in the expenditure of public funds.
Local Decision-Making: ARPA recognizes that local governments are best positioned to understand the unique needs of their communities. As a result, the funds provide flexibility for local decision-making to address specific challenges faced by individual jurisdictions.
As the clock starts ticking on the deadline to obligate funds, Governments must assess and prioritize the most pressing needs within their jurisdictions, which may include issues like public health, economic recovery, support for vulnerable communities, and infrastructure.
Public Health Initiatives: The ongoing global health crisis has underscored the importance of robust public health systems. ARPA funds present a unique opportunity for governments to strengthen and expand their public health infrastructure. This could include investments in testing and vaccination programs, healthcare workforce expansion, and improvements in data collection and analysis for more effective pandemic response strategies. By prioritizing public health, governments can not only address immediate concerns but also build resilience for future health challenges.
Economic Recovery Programs: ARPA funds can serve as a lifeline for communities grappling with the economic fallout of the pandemic. Governments can strategically allocate resources to support small businesses, create jobs, and stimulate economic growth in these areas. This might involve grants, low-interest loans, or other financial assistance programs to help businesses recover and thrive. By fostering economic resilience, governments can lay the groundwork for a sustainable recovery that benefits both businesses and individuals.
Support for Vulnerable Populations: The pandemic has disproportionately affected vulnerable populations, including low-income individuals and those facing housing insecurity. ARPA funds can be instrumental in addressing these disparities by funding initiatives that provide direct assistance, such as rental assistance programs, food security measures, and mental health support.
Infrastructure Investments: Beyond immediate pandemic-related concerns, governments can use ARPA funds to invest in long-term infrastructure projects. This includes modernizing transportation systems, upgrading water and sewer systems, and enhancing broadband access. Such investments not only create jobs but also lay the foundation for sustainable economic growth and improved quality of life for residents.
BGSF: A Proud Public Sector Partner
The Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds represent a crucial component of ARPA's strategy to support a robust and equitable recovery. By providing direct assistance to governments, the plan aims to mitigate the economic fallout of the pandemic and promote a sustainable path toward recovery for communities across the United States.
The BGSF team helps organizations, including government entities, efficiently scale their workforce according to fluctuating demands, which may come as a result of this increase in funding. With a comprehensive understanding of the public sector, we tailor our strategies to provide highly skilled, screened talent who possess the requisite skills and experience required for various public roles. This commitment extends to managed solutions and temporary, permanent, and project-based positions.
To better serve our public sector clients, BGSF became an approved vendor for HGACBuy, a cooperative purchasing program that allows organizations to purchase goods and services through pre-negotiated contracts in lieu of establishing a Master Service Agreement (MSA). That means HGACBuy members have access to one of the largest networks of highly skilled talent, without the hassle of dealing with a lengthy procurement process. Click here to learn more and partner with us today!