Hard Dollars Hard Dollars Internally Created

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) may offer billions of dollars in stimulus funds, but short-handed local governments are having a tough time getting their hands on the money.

For cities and counties wracked by hiring freezes and staff layoffs, it's hard enough to cope with existing workloads, let alone the new demands of securing stimulus grants. Finding stimulus-related grants takes time and effort, and then the eligibility requirements must be studied and the application processes completed.

Adding to the burden is the fact that some local officials are struggling to understand the process for chasing down stimulus dollars. And others complain the stipulations on grants funded by the stimulus are so restrictive that applying for them isn't practical.

Too Few Cooks in the Kitchen

No local official wants to tell citizens that available grant money wasn't pursued. But deciding which employee to pull off a project to seek that money is a dilemma, said Contra Costa County, Calif., Chief Information Security Officer Kevin Dickey. "We really don't have the resources to go out and do the research," he said.

San Jose, Calif. CIO Steve Ferguson made a similar complaint.

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Andy Opsahl  | 

Andy Opsahl is a former writer and features editor for Government Technology magazine.