The American Rescue Plan for Digital Transformation & IT Modernization
In an era characterized by rapid modernization, increased constituent expectations, shrinking budgets, and unpredictable outside disruptions, local governments’ reliance on arcane paper-based processes drains its scarce resources, and limits its ability to effectively serve constituents and enable civic engagement.
COVID-19 and the required response, had a significant impact on the budgets of local governments which has put a strain on services and staff. However, the $1.9 Trillion American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) - passed by Congress in March 2021 which includes the Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds (SLFRF), a part of the American Rescue Plan - delivers $350 billion directly to state, local, and Tribal governments. These funds represent a rare opportunity for local governments to invest in the modernization of IT systems, government software, and digital services.
Unlike the CARES Act, which only sent funds to governments with populations of 500,000 or more, the 2021 ARPA provides governments of all sizes with direct Federal funding. In January 2022, the U.S. Treasury Department released final rules for use of ARPA funds which clarify the ability for local governments to spend ARPA funds on services such as those offered by GovPilot:
- "Technology infrastructure to improve access to and the user experience of government IT systems, as well as technology improvements to increase public access and delivery of government programs and services." (U.S. Treasury Summary document pages 28 - 29)
- "...technology infrastructure to adapt government operations to the pandemic (e.g., video conferencing software, data and case management systems)" (U.S. Treasury Summary document pages 28 - 29)
- "SLFRF may be used for modernization of cybersecurity for existing and new broadband infrastructure, regardless of their speed delivery standards. This includes modernization of hardware and software." Treasury Summary document page 40)
Technology investments can solve short term needs such as increasing efficiency, improving constituent services, and enabling remote work, while simultaneously transforming local governments so that they can thrive in the digital age for decades to come.