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State and Local Governments Still Have Unused COVID Funds

State, local, territorial and tribal entities have used $150 billion from the Coronavirus Relief Fund — part of the CARES Act — for many things. But with the Dec. 31 deadline approaching, some still have a lot left.

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Remember the CARES Act?

The first major stimulus package during the pandemic, passed in March 2020, included about $150 billion for state, local, territorial and tribal governments through a vehicle called the Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF). However, the money came with a spending deadline of Dec. 31, 2021 — at least, it must be spent on expenses incurred by that date (with some exceptions).

The funding has been used on a vast range of projects such as small business relief, plastic shields at service desks and something called “COVID cruisers.” And yes, many governments used it on technology.

But as of this writing, about $10.4 billion of the money sent to those government entities has not been spent — or the jurisdictions haven’t reported spending it, at any rate. A federal transparency website, pandemicoversight.gov, gives detail on which jurisdictions appear to still be sitting on the money.

Many of the jurisdictions that haven’t reported any spending are tribal entities that received relatively small amounts compared to cities and counties. However, there are many counties, cities and states that haven’t reported much spending out of the fund. Lancaster County, Penn., for example, hasn’t reported spending any of its $95 million award. Ocean County, N.J., has 72 percent of its $106 million award left. New York City is sitting on 47 percent of its $1.5 billion award.

States represent the bulk of the money remaining; however, city and tribal entities make up a disproportionate amount of the unspent dollars.

The full list of government entities that received CRF funding is below, sorted by how much money remains unspent in each jurisdiction.
Ben Miller is the associate editor of data and business for Government Technology. His reporting experience includes breaking news, business, community features and technical subjects. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in journalism from the Reynolds School of Journalism at the University of Nevada, Reno, and lives in Sacramento, Calif.
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