Federal Advocacy

CARES Act Coronavirus Relief Fund: The Prime Recipient Perspective

GFOA Report

The impact of the COVID-19 public health emergency has stretched beyond any global catastrophe experienced in the past century. With cases of the virus increasing at an astounding rate in the month of March, President Trump declared a national emergency. This set off a chain of events culminating in an extraordinary spike in unemployment rates amid a crashing economy which put immense pressure on State and local governments to continue providing public services through the turbulence of rapidly decreasing revenues. Congress was pushed to take urgent action to address the landslide of challenges that erupted as the country fell into a deadlock, and on March 27th, the $2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act was signed into law. Under the CARES Act, the $150 billion Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF) was established for State, Local, and Tribal governments navigating the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak.

In August 2020, GFOA dispersed a survey to all 50 states and the 171 eligible units of government that were prime recipients of the CRF to assess the effectiveness of the fund from the State and local government perspective. The survey received a response rate of nearly half of state and local prime recipients. Three case studies were simultaneously conducted consisting of a state, a city, and a county for a more detailed assessment of the CRF from the perspective of prime recipients.


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