A new tool which highlights how American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds are being used by local authorities has been released by non-profit organisation Results for America and policy research firm Mathematica.
Priorities include COVID-19 response, public health, economic recovery and revenue replacement.
Based on an analysis of Recovery Plan Performance Reports from 150 cities, counties, and tribal nations across the US, the ARP Data and Evidence Dashboard provides a snapshot of how local governments are investing allocated funds, and assesses how they are using data, tracking outcomes, engaging with the public, and ensuring an equitable recovery for their residents.
“The dashboard spotlights how innovative local leaders are seizing this historic opportunity and using evidence and data to accelerate economic mobility and racial equity,” said Michele Jolin, CEO and Co-Founder of Results for America.
“We hope this tool will help policymakers at every level of government increase the impact of these once-in-a-generation investments.”
The American Rescue Plan provides US$350 billion in recovery funds to states, territories, cities, counties, and tribal governments to make critical investments in people and infrastructure.
A total of US$65.1 billion has been allocated for counties, and cities with populations over 250,000 will receive a share of US$45.6 billion.
As local governments begin allocating the first tranche of their federal recovery funds, the dashboard tracks early trends in how these 150 jurisdictions are committing their resources.
Three-quarters are investing in addressing the negative economic impacts of COVID-19, 72 percent are investing in public health, including combating COVID-19 through vaccine outreach and distribution, and 69 percent are spending on economic recovery and expanding services to disproportionately impacted communities.
The next priorities include revenue replacement (61 percent), housing (56 percent), infrastructure, such as broadband, sewers, and water (56 percent), workforce programmes (43 percent), innovation pilots (38 percent), education (34 percent), and criminal justice and public safety (31 percent).
Other investment plans include guaranteed basic income (13 percent), emergency rental assistance (19 percent) and premium pay for essential workers (24 percent).
Treasury guidance for how local governments should invest the funds were put into five categories: building and using data and evidence to help deliver services; prioritising evidence-based interventions; assessing investments through rigorous evaluations; engaging the community and incorporating feedback to help determine funding priorities; and promoting equitable outcomes across underserved or marginalised groups.
Candace Miller, Principal Researcher, Mathematica, said: “The dashboard provides a novel and systematic look at how a wide range of local governments are allocating ARP funds so they can compare and connect with other localities.
“We wanted to give busy administrators and their partners a tool that inspires them to implement evidence-based interventions that fundamentally improve the lives of their residents.”
Strengthening workforce programmes, particularly in historically disadvantaged areas, is one area where almost half of the authorities analysed have committed resources.
In Boston, the city will provide direct grants to childcare businesses that have hired new childcare staff (or rehired previously laid-off staff) since 1 July, 2021.
The childcare sector, already a low-paying sector before the pandemic, has a severe workforce shortage.
Part of the grant will be for the hiring organisation and part is intended as a bonus for the employee.
The intended outcomes of the programme are to draw qualified caregivers back into the childcare workforce with better pay, support workers to remain in the field with augmented pay, and help businesses retain their workers with annual bonuses.
Image: Massimo Formica | Dreamstime.com
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