Lawmakers in Washington, D.C., are poised to pass historic legislation to help nurse the country through the economic woes related to the coronavirus pandemic. Here are the technology implications.
Late Wednesday night, the Senate approved the $2.2 trillion stimulus package titled Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which provides $150 billion to states and local government to respond to the pandemic and economic crisis caused by COVID-19. The bill now heads to the U.S. House of Representatives for a vote on Friday.
The $150 billion in aid to states and localities in the Coronavirus Relief Fund is mostly allocated by population with a guarantee that each state receives at least $1.25 billion. Additionally, there is $3 billion reserved for U.S. territories and the District of Columbia and $8 billion set aside for tribal governments.
The $2 trillion federal stimulus bill also includes $340 billion (in addition to the $150 billion) in emergency supplemental funding of which more than 80 percent ($274 billion) will go directly to states and localities, according to the Senate Appropriations Committee. An analysis of the various funding streams has identified various technology-related opportunities including $400 million in elections security. Here is a breakdown of some of the key funding streams that are either directly related to technology or may incorporate technology as an allowable expense:
The Election Assistance Commission (EAC) will provide grants to the States for the 2020 election cycle.
The DLT grant program supports rural communities’ access to telecommunications, audio and video equipment, as well as related advanced technologies for students, teachers and medical professionals.
Economic development grants for states and communities suffering economically as a result of COVID-19.
Funding to assist state, local, and tribal officers in responding to coronavirus. These funds will go directly to state and local governments and their law enforcement and criminal justice agencies. This is a fairly broad-based use grant that can be used to fund equipment, cars, technology or other-related needs.
$200 million for the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to support the efforts of health-care providers to address coronavirus by providing telecommunications services, information services, and devices necessary to enable the provision of telehealth services.
Funding to address immediate needs for improved interagency coordination for the protection of critical infrastructure nationwide.
Funding to invest in better COVID-19 tools and build state and local public health data infrastructure.
Designated funding from FEMA for state and local preparedness and response activities.
Over $13 billion in formula funding directly to states, to help schools meet the immediate needs of K-12 districts to improve the use of education technology and support distance education.
A flexible formula funding to be allocated by states based on the needs of their K-12 districts and their institutions of higher education.
Similar to K-12, this funding will be used to meet urgent needs related to coronavirus, and to support institutions as they cope with the immediate effects of coronavirus and school closures.
Funding for transit providers, including states and local governments across the country, for operating and capital expenses.
Funding to maintain operations at our nation’s airports including construction, rehabilitation, lighting, signage, etc.
CDBG is a flexible program that provides communities and states with funding to provide a wide range of resources to address COVID-19, such as services for senior citizens, the homeless, and public health services.
These funds will enable state and local governments to address coronavirus among the homeless population.
Beyond the funding streams, there are other implications that may drive technology-related spending or projects including:
Joe Morris is the vice president of research for the Center for Digital Government, operated by Government Technology's parent company, e.Republic.