12-Step Process for Successful ARPA Program Management

Written by GrantWorks, Inc. Updated on Apr. 21, 2023

The American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) Program of 2021 is a $1.9 trillion economic rescue package that was enacted to accelerate the United States’ recovery from the economic and public health impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

ARPA allocates $130.2 billion to cities and counties through the U.S. Department of Treasury, offering once-in-a-generation opportunities for communities to make essential investments in infrastructure, public health, and economic revitalization. Cities and counties need tailored solutions for successful execution, compliance, and schedule adherence.

GrantWorks provides comprehensive professional administration, project selection, implementation, and financial management services to help cities and counties manage ARPA funding.

With over $800 million in ARPA funds under management, over 180 state, county, and city government clients, and more than 40 years managing programs, we have a streamlined 12-step process for successful ARPA program management.

1. Lost Revenue Review

Our Lost Revenue Review is the first step to recoup funds for government services. We analyze revenue loss to determine if each unit of government is best serviced by reporting the calculated revenue loss or by taking the standard allocation, which is allowed in the final rule.

2. Standardized Process for Documentation

Our standardized process for documentation of project eligibility and expense management provides confidence that your proposed activities are acceptable using ARPA funds. We developed web-based tools that organize all potential projects and budgets for ease of prioritization and demonstration of tie-back to the legislation.

3. Evaluate Risks and Create Mitigation Plans

The Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds (SLFRF) program is part of ARPA and delivers $350 billion to state, local, and tribal governments across the country to support the response to and recovery from the COVID-19 public health emergency.

The U.S. Department of Treasury intentionally built flexibility into the SLFRF Final Rule, which includes some degree of subjectivity. For all proposed projects, we provide risk analysis for program compliance and evaluate how the project suits the underlying needs of the community. This is especially valuable for the projects that are “non-enumerated” in the Final Rule.

4. Ensure Engineers and Contractors Are Properly Procured

The use of federal funds must follow the Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements. Our team assists clients in ensuring that engineers and contractors are properly procured per 2 CFR 200 and offers assistance in the procurement processes.

5. Assist in the Preparation of the Project

Defining the scope, budget, and schedules of a project is critical to estimating and controlling costs and future change orders. Our team manages this process and works with project engineers to set realistic expectations and independent cost estimates.

6. Perform Environmental Analysis

The use of ARPA funds won’t trigger the need for a National Environmental Protection Agency (NEPA) review, but all permitting and environmental compliance laws still apply. Our team will perform an analysis of all infrastructure projects to ensure permitting and compliance concerns are addressed and documented properly.

7. Prioritize Project Development and Launch

Projects that satisfy an immediate community need should be expedited, such as projects with long lead times, complex permitting processes, or significant duration. We prioritize project development and launch to ensure projects are completed on schedule with all obligations and expenditures slated within the required time frames. We bring together all stakeholders to achieve this goal.

8. Develop Policies and Procedures

All programs should have written policies and procedures documents that offer operational guidance to stakeholders for transparency and consistency. Having these documents remind stakeholders of specific requirements in managing funds and executing projects using U.S. Department of Treasury funds.

9. Provide Project Management

For newly created programs and projects, we provide comprehensive project management services. Once programs are set up and launched, we supply the labor force necessary to implement or provide oversight. If programs are implemented by nonprofit groups or others, we assist in creating a subrecipient agreement and monitor the activities of the subrecipient, including the preparation of reports for stakeholders.

10. Manage Regulatory and Compliance Concerns

Our team understands that projects created using ARPA funds may be subject to a variety of regulations aside from those mandated by ARPA legislation. We navigate cross-cutting requirements to ensure there are no surprises in the project lifecycle, and reports are prepared with attention to compliance.

11. Prepare Reports Required by the U.S. Department of Treasury

The U.S. Department of Treasury requires annual reporting for governments that have received less than $10 million. Our data management system is designed to allow progressive evaluation and interim reporting for our clients. The preparation and evaluation of interim reports is one way in which we communicate consistently to ensure that all relevant stakeholders understand what will be entered into the Treasury Portal.

12. Create Audit-Friendly Closeout Packages

Throughout the program’s lifecycle, our team archives communications, decision points, rationales, and financial movements to create an audit-friendly closeout package. Our team will provide audit support for the government in the event that the U.S. Department of Treasury or other appointed agency questions the individual projects or expenditures.

Let Us Help You Meet Your ARPA Goals

GrantWorks offers comprehensive services to help cities and counties manage ARPA funding and reach their project goals. From program management to financial management to compliance and audit readiness support, we’re here to help. Contact us today to learn more!