The Bureau of Governmental Research today releases Handle with Care: Public Planning and Accountability Must Guide Spending of Federal Relief Funds. This BGR NOW offers guidance to government entities on harnessing the opportunities presented by unprecedented federal funding to spur recovery from the pandemic’s economic, fiscal and health impacts. These governments have substantial flexibility in spending the federal dollars, which creates a rare opportunity to address public needs without burdening taxpayers. But realizing the full potential of this one-time money will require policymakers to establish a prudent decision-making process with strong oversight mechanisms.
BGR developed its guidance based on its research on local government fiscal issues and its mission of promoting the effective use of public resources. BGR’s release focuses primarily on the City of New Orleans’ $388 million allocation because of its size – the largest among Louisiana’s parish and municipal governments. However, BGR’s recommendations generally apply to other government entities receiving federal aid through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), including school districts and the state government.