- Overview of the American Rescue Plan Act and Technology Modernization Fund
- What qualifies for funding?
- How to apply for and access funds
- Ways PowerDMS could qualify for funding
- Important things to remember
COVID-19 has had a far-reaching impact on the public sector. Similar to the CARES Act Congress passed last year, the American Rescue Plan Act (ARP) has set aside funds that can be used by local governments to fund specific projects or needs related to the pandemic.
The CARES Act provided $150 billion in local government funding, but the ARP provides $350 billion – a significant increase and availability in funding that cities can tap into. Apart from funding, there are two key differences between the American Rescue Plan and the CARES Act. Through the ARP, cities and counties will receive dedicated allocations based on population size, and funds must be incurred by December 31, 2024 rather than by the end of the year. This gives public sector agencies more time to plan and use funds than the CARES Act provided.
What qualifies for funding?
According to the Treasury website, ARP Funds may be used for the following purposes:
- Support public health expenditures by, for example, funding COVID-19 mitigation efforts, medical expenses, behavioral healthcare, and certain public health and safety staff
- Address negative economic impacts caused by the public health emergency, including economic harms to workers, households, small businesses, impacted industries, and the public sector
- Replace lost public sector revenue, using this funding to provide government services to the extent of the reduction in revenue experienced due to the pandemic
- Provide premium pay for essential workers, offering additional support to those who have and will bear the greatest health risks because of their service in critical infrastructure sectors
- Invest in water, sewer, and broadband infrastructure, making necessary investments to improve access to clean drinking water, support vital wastewater and stormwater infrastructure, and to expand access to broadband internet
Additionally the ARP included an additional one billion dollars to be appropriated to the Technology Modernization Fund (Sec. 4011) that was created in 2017.
According to the Technology Modernization Fund website, priorities of ARP Funds are projects that cut across agencies, address immediate security gaps, and improve the public’s ability to access government services, including:
- Modernizing high priority systems: The Fund will support investments that modernize and support priority agency assets and services. This may include systems already designated as High Value Assets (HVAs) that have significant impact, or longstanding security issues.
- Cybersecurity: The Fund will support investments that move the government to a consistent baseline of maturity in cybersecurity and privacy protections, including addressing gaps uncovered in the recent SolarWinds incident. This may include identity, credential, and access management, as well as moving towards a “zero trust” architecture – while maintaining the capabilities and performance that agencies need to deliver modern services and succeed at their mission.
- Public-facing digital services: The Fund will support the creation or modernization of digital services with dramatic benefits to increasing access and equity, reducing fraud, and improving service delivery, including core issues exposed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Cross-government collaboration / scalable services: The Fund will support public-facing or agency-facing shared services, including technical infrastructure that can offer agency technology teams a scalable, secure foundation for the rapid creation and modernization of digital services.
One important thing to note about the Technology Modernization Fund (TMF) is that agencies are required to pay back either a portion or all of the funds borrowed. Because full repayment has been a barrier to agencies submitting proposals to access funds, they have increased the repayment flexibility and provided options for minimal repayment. This means that funds unlocked from the ARP TMF will be easier to access and may not require as much proof of financial return. Their website states:
As a general rule: if your agency has a project that would produce significant positive impact or would address critical security or capability gaps, we strongly encourage you to submit an initial proposal to the Board for consideration.
Accessing American Rescue Plan (ARP) Funds
An eligible state, territorial, metropolitan city, county, or Tribal government can use the Treasury Submission Portal to request ARP funds for their area.
Speak with your CEO to determine whether or not your agency will receive funding and how it will be allocated. Each area (state, territory, county, etc.) will then determine how agencies can request and access funds. Research your area to determine the distribution model. You will likely need to craft a proposal outlining your agency's needs.
Accessing ARP Technology Modernization Funds (TMF)
First you will need to complete an Initial Project Proposal (IPP). The template document can be found here (IPP Appendix A Template). They recommend that you notify the TMF Program Management Office at firstname.lastname@example.org if you intend to submit an Initial Project Proposal (IPP).
Your IPP should include a high-level analysis outlining whether or not your agency can repay the full amount or if repayment flexibility is needed.
It’s important to note that proposals sent to email@example.com by Wednesday, June 2, 2021 will receive expedited consideration.
We recommend you read through the TMF selection criteria to get a better idea of what kinds of proposals the Board is more likely to approve and fund.
Once an IPP is approved, your agency will have three weeks to submit a Full Project Proposal (FPP). The template documents for the FPP can be found here.
The FPP should include a proposed repayment structure or an argument why repayment flexibility should be considered. Repayment is expected to be within five (5) years unless otherwise approved by the Board.
Ways PowerDMS could qualify for funding
If you are looking to access funds to purchase PowerDMS, we recommend looking closely at the ARP Technology Modernization Funds (TMF). There are a few different ways PowerDMS could potentially qualify, depending on your agency’s use case and needs.
Public-Facing Digital Services
One use of TMF is for Public-facing digital services. As stated on the treasury website:
The Fund will support the creation or modernization of digital services with dramatic benefits to increasing access and equity, reducing fraud, and improving service delivery, including core issues exposed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Our public-facing documents feature allows your agency to make policies, procedures, and other key documents available to the public. When a policy is updated in PowerDMS, the public version is automatically updated and available to the public in real-time. Especially in the case of law enforcement, this capability has shown to promote transparency and trust with their citizens by making agency policies available to the public. Click here to learn more about public facing documents and how it can help your agency.
One use of TMF is for Cybersecurity. As stated on the treasury website:
The Fund will support investments that move the government to a consistent baseline of maturity in cybersecurity and privacy protections…This may include identity, credential, and access management, as well as moving towards a “zero trust” architecture – while maintaining the capabilities and performance that agencies need to deliver modern services and succeed at their mission.
At PowerDMS, we seek the highest standards in data management and security. PowerDMS is hosted on AWS GovCloud (US) and all data is encrypted. Our platform is load-balanced across three secure, US-based data centers designed to anticipate and tolerate failure while maintaining service levels. We also maintain FBI-CJIS, SOC 2, and HIPAA compliance. Learn more about our data and cybersecurity.
Additionally, with an increase in cyberattacks on cities, PowerDMS has proven to remain operational even when an entire city had their network disable. This allowed the Durham Police Department to participate in an accreditation onsite and maintain vital communication while their entire network was disabled after a malware attack.
Cross-Government Collaboration / Scalable Services
One use of TMF is for Cross-Government Collaboration / Scalable Services. As stated on the treasury website:
The Fund will support public-facing or agency-facing shared services, including technical infrastructure that can offer agency technology teams a scalable, secure foundation for the rapid creation and modernization of digital services.
PowerDMS workflows allow an agency to route documents for review, editing, and approval online. Built in automation tools alert users when a document is due for review or approval. Audit trails and version control functionality track all changes and ensure that archived copies can be accessed at any time. This allows for policy updates to be done in hours or days, rather than weeks, which streamlines the process significantly.
With our access control features, including user and group management, an entire city can use a single PowerDMS site, but segment access to documents and training based on department. This allows an entire city to have a single source of truth for policy management, dissemination, and accountability tracking. Check out this podcast to learn how the City of Henderson benefited from using PowerDMS across their entire city.
Important things to remember
There is one billion dollars of ARP Technology Modernization Funds to tap into and they will be distributed on a first come, first serve basis. All proposals sent in prior to June 2, 2021 will receive priority distribution.
Also consider leveraging ARP funds for budget shortfalls to free up funds for essential technology tools like PowerDMS. Unlike the TMF, ARP funds don’t need to be paid back and can cover key shortfalls within your agency. These funds can be used to cover any expenses incurred before December 31, 2024.
Here are some helpful links so you can get started unlocking funding for your agency today.
- American Rescue Plan page on the Treasury website
- ARP Technology Modernization Fund website
- Executive Overview of PowerDMS
- Schedule a demo of PowerDMS