Technical assistance

Agencies Eye IT Infrastructure Upgrades Under 2 Federal Acts

ARPA now funds a flexible range of projects

ARPA is a $1.9 trillion spending package that rewards $350 billion to state and local governments. The States will receive about 195 billion dollars; metropolitan areas will receive approximately $45 billion; and counties and other departments will receive the rest.

State and local governments may use ARPA funds for a variety of purposes, including reimbursement of payments made before the funds were received. They can offset reduced tax revenue collection due to the coronavirus pandemic. They can also invest in water and sewer services as well as broadband infrastructure.

Approved ARPA expenditures could include emergency operations centers, public telemedicine assets, expansion of government computer systems to improve access, cybersecurity upgrades, new broadband infrastructure and more.

Let’s look at some notable examples of where states and cities have spent ARPA funds to date. Texas received $15.8 billion in ARPA funds and committed $500 million to broadband infrastructure and $150 million to next-generation 911, among other projects. In Arizona, the city of Phoenix received $396 million in ARPA funds. It has allocated $10 million for a citywide wireless network, $2.3 million for Wi-Fi connectivity in its community centers and $3 million for library technology, in addition to ‘other expenses.

Under ARPA, states and localities can also justify spending on services, such as penetration testing, that demonstrate the resilience of new technology purchases. More generally, ARPA funds will cover any planned expenses that have been delayed or canceled due to shortfalls due to COVID-19.

RELATED: How can state CIOs encourage broadband expansion?

The IIJA will soon award funds for fixed programs

Most IIJA funds will not be available until the summer or fall. Eligible states can collect these grant funds and distribute them to localities and other beneficiaries. The law authorizes a total of $1.2 trillionand $1.9 billion of this amount is dedicated to protecting critical infrastructure against cyberattacks.

The IIJA’s targeted grant programs include:

  • Rural and Municipal Utilities Advanced Cybersecurity Grant and Technical Assistance ($250 million)
  • Improving State and Local Cybersecurity Act ($1 billion)
  • Enabling Middle Mile Broadband Infrastructure ($1 billion)
  • Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment Program ($42.45 billion)
  • Digital Equity Act ($1.3 billion)
  • Mobility Enhancement and Transportation Revolution Grant Program ($500 million)
  • Safe Streets and Roads for All ($5 billion)

The US Department of Energy will oversee the $250 million Rural and Municipal Utilities Advanced Cybersecurity Grant and Technical Assistance program. This competitive grant will fund electric utility defenses and improve participation in information-sharing initiatives. Government-owned utilities can use the funds to purchase any technology or service to improve protection against cybersecurity threats.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security will administer the $1 billion grant to National and local cybersecurity. Although grants are awarded to states, at least 80% of funds must go to local governments; 25 percent should be reserved for rural areas. States and localities can use this money to implement cybersecurity plans, develop or revise cybersecurity plans, or participate in activities to address imminent cybersecurity threats.

Municipalities eyeing smart city projects can work with their state to allocate IIJA funds. Cities could apply funding to Internet of Things sensors and systems integration to bring more systems online and share data widely. There are also other funding mechanisms in the law. When seeking funding for roads, for example, agencies can justify spending on smart sensors and related infrastructure as part of an overall smart city plan.

This article is part of StateTechit’s Citizen Blog Series. Please join the discussion on Twitter using the #StateLocalIT hashtag.