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Survey Shows How COVID Relief Is Helping Local Government IT

While tech makes up a minority of spending for local governments that received federal COVID relief funds, it has pushed many toward modernization, cybersecurity and digital service efforts, a new survey has found.

It’s been apparent for some time that the CARES Act and American Rescue Plan helped prop up state and local governments — and gave them the ability to make much-needed technological changes as workers went remote and services went digital.

But the results of a new survey from Springbrook Software is offering new insights into just how they spent it.

One significant finding was that technology actually made up a relatively small part of the uses local governments found for the relief money. The majority of respondents who received CARES Act or ARPA funds said they spent 10 percent or less of it on IT.
When they did spend it on technology, the uses for the money were widespread. Many spent the money on multiple IT efforts such as cybersecurity, enabling remote work and setting up digital services. Throughout the pandemic, Government Technology has found many examples of public agencies finding ways to serve residents remotely through new technology.
The results also indicated that local governments undergoing IT modernization efforts right now are much more likely to flesh out and upgrade their existing systems than they are to replace vendors or put in new systems.
The survey, which e.Republic* helped create, included participation from 108 municipalities across the country. The bulk of the respondents were in finance departments, but included elected officials and appointed leaders from other departments.

*e.Republic is the parent company of Government Technology.
Ben Miller is the associate editor of data and business for Government Technology. His reporting experience includes breaking news, business, community features and technical subjects. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in journalism from the Reynolds School of Journalism at the University of Nevada, Reno, and lives in Sacramento, Calif.