As the effects of COVID-19 continue to impact the economic and funding environment facing both state and local governmental entities, and nonprofit organizations of all sizes, essential services are in danger of being compromised. It is vital for the constituents and the clients of your organization that essential services be continued, even as social distancing and stay-at-home or shelter-in-place orders impact the way business is conducted. The recent CARES Act contains provisions for funding that your organization may be able to use to continue to pay employees or continue essential services.
We are also seeing federal awarding agencies authorize funding programs to fund specific activities or projects related to COVID-19, and it is likely that there will be many new programs funded in the upcoming weeks and months. Information on such programs may be found on the grants.gov website. New funding opportunities are available on a daily basis. While many of the programs are focused on public health and healthcare entities, funding is available in other areas, such as law enforcement, prisons (the Coronavirus Emergency Supplemental Funding Program through the Department of Justice), and support for elderly populations (Special Programs for the Aging, Titles II and IV through the Department of Health and Human Services).
Rules for accepting applications for funding and related deadlines have been relaxed per OMB memos M-20-11 and M-20-17. Governmental entities and organizations serving the public and at-risk clientele may be able to receive funding to continue essential services or expand to better serve the needs of vulnerable populations, while keeping employees working and the lights on. Even governments and organizations that do not depend on grant funding may be able to access funds from these programs.
Each State is also expected to provide funding to local governments and nonprofit organizations, both in the short-term to keep operations running, and in the long-term to stabilize and aid in recovery. The unprecedented scope and impact of the COVID-19 crisis will require governmental and private organizations to work together to lessen the impact on the country as a whole, both at an individual state level and at a community level.
As governments and organizations grapple with the new realities of social distancing and telecommuting, it is important that policies and procedures for the management and stewardship of federal funds for all programs be adapted to the environment. This also means ensuring the safeguarding of resources and ensuring proper and responsible stewardship of public funds. In times like these, a CPA is able to provide guidance on best practices for maintaining internal controls and working securely in this environment. Accounting firms will be able to continue providing guidance on the new grant funding available as the details emerge. In the meantime, it is recommended that governmental entities and other organizations stay vigilant for new grant funding opportunities and maintain supporting documentation for any additional costs incurred in the event that these may become eligible for reimbursement.
For more guidance tailored to your specific organization, reach out to a CRI advisor for more information.