New COVID-19 relief bill includes $240 billion for public sector tech initiatives

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For many public sector organizations, the COVID-19 pandemic put a pause on tech expenditures they may have been planning, as budgets were tightened, and non-essential projects were placed on hold.

Good news: Help is on the way.

On Dec. 27, 2020, former President Trump signed H.R. 133, a $2.3 trillion omnibus spending bill that included a $900 billion coronavirus stimulus package (PL 116-260). While part of this $900 billion relief effort extends the original CARES Act to the end of 2021, it also sets aside $240 billion for IT-related initiatives.

Now that you know the money is there, how can you take advantage of it? Let’s get into it.

Who are these funds for?

The funds are for public sector organizations. This includes, but is not limited to:

  • State government agencies
  • City and local government agencies
  • Federal agencies
  • Healthcare providers
  • Education institutions
  • Tribal entities

How are the funds being distributed?

Of the $240 billion, there will be two pools of IT-related funding: direct dollars and grants.

Direct dollars, which will be funneled from the federal agencies to their respective state department agencies (e.g., U.S. Department of Transportation distributes to the State Departments of Transportation), account for 14% of the funds, or a little over $33 billion.

Grant funding, which includes existing grants and new grants, makes up the other 86%, or roughly $207 billion.

What can the funds be used for?

That’s the tricky part.

While we’ve established that these funds are designated for IT-related projects, state agencies have yet to define the guidelines and parameters for what constitutes “IT-related.”

This doesn’t impact the grant funding portion of the package, but it can complicate the direct funding aspect since it’s not clear how much is being doled out to each state or how public sector organizations can spend the money.

Luckily, that’s where SHI comes in.

How can SHI help?

SHI has the resources and expertise to make navigating these distribution paths simple and seamless.

Grant funding, while less complex, isn’t exactly a walk in the park. You still need to examine all the programs to see if you qualify, and then you must identify funds and apply for them. This takes time, energy, and resources.

The SHI Grants Support Program can do most of the legwork for you. It provides you with info on available grants, tailored funding reports, and even consultations on current and future projects. SHI also has a partnership with Grants Office, a national leader in grants intelligence. Both these resources make discovering and taking advantage of grants much smoother for your organization.

As for direct funding, SHI Government Affairs has you covered. They will work with you to track down the parameters and definitions of the funding as outlined by the states. They also coordinate with consultants throughout the country to monitor new and existing legislation.

In essence, for any questions you may have about this new funding – how it’s being distributed, how much is going to each state department, and what you can spend it on – SHI Government Affairs can get you the answers.

Tapping funds for future IT-related projects

The coronavirus pandemic forced many public sector organizations to put a pin in their IT spending. That means projects like modernizing applications, moving to the cloud, cyber resilience, or even supporting a digital workforce were placed on hold.

But that wait appears to be over.

The $240 billion allocated for public sector IT-related initiatives as part of H.R. 133 will begin flowing on Jan. 27, 2020. With this money, you will now be able to tap into direct dollars or grants to leverage the tech projects you may have had to shelve because of COVID-19.

Just know that the funding you need is available, and SHI is here to help. What are you waiting for?

To learn more about the latest COVID-19 relief stimulus package, the resources allocated for public sector IT initiatives, and how you can fund your next IT project, contact SHI.

Lauren Baines contributed to this post.