Advancing Public Sector Initiatives Through Stimulus Funds
Since the onset of the pandemic in March 2020, the federal government has passed three significant pieces of legislation to help agencies, institutions, and organizations navigate the unprecedented challenges they encountered, continue to face today, and prepare for a new normal moving forward. Learn more about each of these legislative acts and how they could advance your public sector initiatives.
The COVID-19 pandemic changed our world. It immediately and significantly impacted our public sector agencies and non-profit organizations. The speed with which the pandemic arrived left little time to pivot, much less the budget or resources necessary to do so.
Since the onset of the pandemic in March 2020, the federal government has passed three significant pieces of legislation:
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (H.R. 748 – CARES Act) became law on March 27, 2020. The $2.2 trillion bill, created in response to the economic fallout caused by COVID-19, provided emergency assistance and health care response for individuals, families, and businesses affected by the pandemic. Funds must be used by December 30, 2021 by State and Local agencies and September 30, 2022 for K-12 institutions, and may be used for costs dating back to March 13, 2020.
Consolidated Appropriations Act
The Coronavirus Response and Consolidated Appropriations Act (H.R. 133 – Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021) became law on December 27, 2020. It represents a $2.3 trillion spending bill that includes $900 billion in coronavirus emergency response and relief. Funds must be used by September 30, 2023.
American Rescue Plan Act
The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (H.R. 1319 – American Rescue Plan) became law on March 11, 2021. The $1.9 trillion economic stimulus bill provides funds to speed up the recovery from the economic and health effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and the ongoing recession. Funds must be used by September 30, 2024.
The Legislative Impact on Public Sector
Each of these legislative acts was specifically designed to help agencies, institutions, and organizations navigate the unprecedented challenges they encountered, continue to face today, and prepare for a new normal moving forward.
The associated funds offer the chance to execute the necessary short-term pivots, to implement stabilizing initiatives for the medium-term until the impacts of COVID subside, and to develop and begin to deliver on the long-term strategic plans that leverage lessons learned for optimal post-pandemic operations.
From a public sector perspective, each of these pieces of legislation includes a variety of key components:
Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act
Funds must be used by December 30, 2021, and may be used for costs dating back to March 13, 2020.
- $14 billion to higher education institutions, including $1 billion specifically dedicated to supporting Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), other Minority-Serving Institutions, and other under-resourced institutions
- $13 billion to school districts to cover activities including purchasing educational technology such as laptops and hotspot devices and training educators to use online learning tools
- $3 billion to state governors for emergency education relief that can be spent on school districts, higher education institutions, or both
- $750 million for the Head Start program to maintain continuity
- $200 million to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to expand telehealth services
- $100 million to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for additional grants under its Rural Utilities Service's (RUS) Rural Broadband Deployment program
- $25 million to the USDA for the RUS Distance Learning, Telemedicine, and Broadband program to deliver telemedicine and distance learning capabilities to rural areas
- Allowed the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to enter into short-term contracts with carriers to provide temporary service to veterans for expanded mental health services
Consolidated Appropriations Act
Funds must be used by September 30, 2023, and may be used for costs dating back to March 13, 2020.
- $82 billion to the Department of Education's (DOE) Education Stabilization Fund to support the educational needs of states, school districts, higher education institutions, and the students they serve, including:
- $54.3 billion to the DOE's Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) Fund for facilities improvements and repairs, providing technology to students, and helping address student learning loss
- $22.7 billion to the DOE's Higher Education Emergency Relief (HEER) Fund for non-profit public and private higher education institutions (with $1.7 billion dedicated to HBCUs, Tribal Colleges and Universities, and Hispanic Serving Institutions) to use for initiatives including training and technology costs associated with the transition to distance learning
- $4 billion to state governors for emergency education relief for public and private schools
- Nearly $1 billion for outlying areas and schools run by the Bureau of Indian Education
- $73 billion to the Department of Health and Human Services, with $8.75 billion funneled through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to support federal, state, local, territorial, and tribal health agencies
- $11.2 billion to the USDA to provide technological and other support to address coronavirus-related challenges agricultural producers, growers, and processors face
- $10 billion to the Department of Transportation to support state and local transportation agencies
- $3.2 billion to the FCC for its Emergency Broadband Connectivity Fund to deliver broadband and connected devices to low-income households, with an additional $1.9 billion to the FCC in support of the Secure and Trusted Communications Network Act
- $1 billion to the Department of Commerce's National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) agency for tribal broadband grants
- $300 million to the NTIA for its Broadband Infrastructure Grant program to support infrastructure primarily in rural areas, with an additional $285 million to the NTIA for its Connecting Minority Communities pilot program to address broadband issues in communities co-located with HBCUs
- $250 million to the FCC for telehealth funding
- $98 million to the FCC to conduct broadband data mapping and create broadband data maps under the Broadband DATA Act
- $35 million to the USDA for its RUS Community Connect program
- Implementation of the ACCESS BROADBAND Act, which establishes the Office of Internet Connectivity and Growth at the NTIA to coordinate agencies that offer broadband deployment funding programs
- Implementation of the Broadband Interagency Coordination Act, which requires the FCC, NTIA, and USDA to enter into an interagency agreement to coordinate distribution of federal funds for broadband programs and prevent duplication of support
American Rescue Plan Act
Funds must be used by September 30, 2024, and may be used for costs dating back to March 13, 2020.
- $350 billion to state and local governments, territories, and tribes, including $219.8 billion for the Coronavirus State Fiscal Recovery Fund for states, territories, and tribes to use to make necessary infrastructure investments and $130.2 billion for the Coronavirus Local Fiscal Recovery Fund for local governments to use to make necessary infrastructure investments
- $122 billion to the DOE's ESSER Fund to supplement and continue the work begun under the Consolidated Appropriations Act
- $35 billion to the DOE's HEER Fund to supplement and continue the work begun under the Consolidated Appropriations Act
- $10 billion to states, territories, and tribal governments for the Coronavirus Capital Projects Fund for critical capital projects directly enabling work, education, and health monitoring
- $9.9 billion to create a Homeowners Assistance Fund to mitigate financial hardships associated with the pandemic and prevent homeowner loss of utility services like broadband
- $7.5 billion to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to support efforts including information technology and information systems improvements
- $7.1 billion to the FCC to establish the Emergency Connectivity Fund, administered under the E-Rate program to fund eligible equipment (such as Wi-Fi hotspots, modems, and routers) and services for school students, staff, and library patrons either on-premises or remote
- $5 billion to the DOE's Hardest Hit Ed Fund to support programs and students (early childhood, K-12, or higher education) impacted by COVID-19
- $1 billion to the Technology Modernization Fund, managed by the General Services Administration (GSA) and Office of Management and Budget (OMB), for IT modernization and reform
- $850 million to the DOE's Bureau of Indian Education to support the operation of tribal elementary and secondary schools, as well as Tribal Colleges and Universities
- $650 million to the Department of Homeland Security's Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency for cybersecurity risk mitigation
- $200 million to OMB's U.S. Digital Service for IT consultation services
- $150 million to GSA's Federal Citizens Service Fund for information dissemination and sharing
- $100 million to the VA for IT systems that accelerate supply chain modernization initiatives
Seizing the Opportunity to Modernize
Out of much hardship arose opportunities to accelerate public service missions and improvements through technology, driven by the financial resources available through these and other stimulus-based funds.
Taking advantage of these funds requires understanding the highly dynamic components and constraints associated with each legislative item – see some of the highlights on this page. Equally important, success hinges on working with a partner that understands the relevant and critical technologies, infrastructures, business processes, and applications that bring the vision to reality.
WWT possesses the experience and expertise to assist every step of the way, from consulting and design to implementation, deployment, and operation. Together, we can make a new world happen.