This Q&A report reviews the billions of dollars the Department of the Treasury has awarded to state and local governments to help them cover COVID-19 recovery costs.
As of March 31, 2023:
States have reported spending $88.2 billion, or 45% of their awards.
Localities have reported spending $47.9 billion, or 38% of their awards.
The largest category of spending was for revenue lost due to the pandemic—$39.5 billion for states and $32.4 billion for localities.
States and localities have until December 31, 2026 to spend their awards.
What GAO Found
State and local government recipients of the Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds (SLFRF) program obligated more than half and spent less than half of their awards, per their reporting as of March 31, 2023—the most recent data available at the time of this report.
- All states (including the District of Columbia) reported obligating 60 percent ($118.3 billion) and spending 45 percent ($88.2 billion) of the SLFRF awards they received.
- Localities reported obligating 54 percent ($67.5 billion) and spending 38 percent ($47.9 billion) of their awards.
- States and localities reported spending the largest amount of their awards to replace revenue lost due to the pandemic. Specifically, 45 percent ($39.5 billion) of states' reported spending and 68 percent ($32.4 billion) of localities' reported spending was used for this purpose.
- For example, Utah reported spending $333 million to replace revenue for essential government services including corrections, public safety, and social services. The city of Vineland, New Jersey reported spending over $280,000 to address a budget shortfall that resulted from increased waste removal costs from periods of quarantine during the pandemic.
GAO's analysis found that approximately 14 percent of localities, with a collective $3 billion in SLFRF awards, did not submit a report to Treasury on their uses of funds through March 31, 2023, as required. Treasury officials told GAO they began sending notices of non-compliance to most of these localities in August 2023. GAO will continue to review Treasury's efforts to address non-compliance with filing required reports on uses of SLFRF awards.
As a result of GAO's analysis, Treasury updated its public web postings and disclosed that SLFRF spending data do not include information from all recipients that were required to submit a report. This action will help ensure that Congress and the public have a more complete and accurate picture of how much SLFRF funding has been obligated and spent, and for what purposes.
Why GAO Did This Study
The SLFRF allocated $350 billion to tribal governments, states, the District of Columbia, local governments, and U.S. territories to help cover a broad range of costs stemming from the health and economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. SLFRF recipients must regularly submit reports to Treasury on their use of SLFRF awards and the projects undertaken with them.
The CARES Act includes a provision for GAO to monitor the use of federal funds to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. GAO was also asked to review Treasury's administration of the SLFRF program. This report examines the SLFRF funding states and localities are required to report to Treasury and Treasury's actions when states or localities do not submit the required reporting.
To conduct this work, GAO analyzed Treasury SLFRF project and expenditure data and interviewed Treasury officials. GAO also reviewed laws and regulations governing the SLFRF program, and Treasury SLFRF program guidance, policies, and procedures.
For more information, contact Jeff Arkin at (202) 512-6806 or firstname.lastname@example.org.