Thanks to the United States Department of Health and Human Services, commonly referred to as HHS, CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security) Act funding is now available for many who have been impacted by Coronavirus. In particular, this funding is an excellent resource for local governments who need to work to fight COVID-19 and the issues it has caused.
Specifically, the funding can help these entities to make IT upgrades that will streamline their operations in order to enable them to more efficiently help people who need support not just now, but in the future as well.
If you do qualify for the funding, which involves an application process, it’s important that you spend it correctly and in compliance with the Act’s terms and conditions. Fortunately, spending on IT-related needs is both allowable, in most cases, and wise. What’s even better is that, if you make these investments now, with your CARES funds, and can verify that the use of the funds was valid, then you will not have to repay the funds at a later date, the way you would with many other forms of assistance.
Local governments and others who are deemed eligible for the CARES Act can spend their money in a variety of approved ways.
However, as mentioned, one important way in which local governments should consider spending their funds is on investing in more up-to-date, capable IT systems and other digital products.
The reasoning behind this is that with more proficient digital systems, many governments will be able to better handle the needs of the people who rely on them and to do so more quickly, thoroughly, and efficiently, which is incredibly important right now. Furthermore, such systems could allow for remote work in the present, as well as setting governments and their related communities up for long-term success and improvements, well after COVID has ceased to be a major problem.
In this regard, using CARES funds for IT investment makes a lot of sense because it is one of the few spending options that will provide both immediate relief, while still looking toward the future.
Of course, the CARES Act does require that all usage of CARES funds be considered “necessary expenditures.” This simply means that all funds received from the CARES Act need to be used in a way that contributes to costs incurred as a result of COVID-19 and its impacts.
Thus, whether some or a portion of the funds you receive ultimately goes toward digital or IT upgrades, as long as you can validate the spending and how the spending was used to address and assist with cost and problems incurred as a result of the pandemic, you are perfectly within your legal rights to spend the funds in these ways.
One of many ways in which IT development could be considered a necessary expenditure is by using it to provide easier, more instant, and more convenient access to necessary resources.
If, for example, you use your new system to offer paperless processes to your constituents, this is both beneficial and necessary for everyone affected. Not only are paperless methods considered safer during the pandemic than conducting such business in person, but they also allow more people to access the forms and resources they need most, while also enabling faster, safer processing of those forms and cost-efficiency.
The CARES Act also stipulates that any investments made with CARES funds must not have been accounted for in the most recent budget that was approved for your organization as of March 27 of this year. Thus, if you did not include specific IT upgrades in your last budget, you are well within your rights to acquire those resources now. In this regard, CARES funding represents the perfect opportunity to pursue the upgrades your offices have long since needed but were formerly unable to acquire or even plan for in the near future.
Ultimately, the CARES Act represents a rare opportunity for governmental and other entities, and now is the time to seize this chance!
By investing in smart IT solutions, you can help the people who depend on you immediately, and well into the future. There are few smarter or longer-term investments you could make to benefit your community. While you should ultimately spend based on where the greatest need lies, many governments will agree that IT investment is the wisest use of their funds.