OMB has issued guidance to agencies on distributing, monitoring and reporting on spending under the recently enacted American Rescue Plan Act, stressing that special attention is to be paid in certain areas.
Memo M-21-20 notes that the $1.9 trillion measure contains funding for a wide variety of pandemic relief and economic stimulus purposes, ranging from setting up community vaccination sites and addressing supply shortage problems, to direct financial relief to individuals, communities and industries. It cites the “need to ensure the public’s trust in how the federal government implements ARP programs and distributes ARP funding. Accountability and transparency of federal government spending and achieving results are necessary for effective stewardship of these funds.”
It says that agencies must: follow standard laws and rules governing grants; consider how funding “could increase the benefits that flow to disadvantaged communities and invest in opportunities that help revitalize energy communities”; “use federal data to assess the effectiveness and equitable delivery of such programs and suggest improvements”; and “collect recipient performance reports in a manner that enables the federal government to articulate the outcomes” of federal financial assistance, among other controls.
“Performance planning, management, and agency reporting for ARP funding should be incorporated into agencies’ existing organizational performance management routines. Public reporting should also be integrated with required performance planning and reporting to ensure alignment with the overarching agency strategic goals and objectives,” it says.
It adds: “The administration will also work with executive departments and agencies (agencies) to identify ARP programs that—given the nature of the program’s goals and design and the program’s potential impacts on equitable outcomes—require additional attention (beyond the overarching financial tracking and reporting requirements herein) to program design, tracking, and reporting to support agency, administration, and public understanding” of how the money is being spent.