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How Does ARPA Align with Digital Transformation for Government Entities?

September 07, 2021

The American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) is the latest wave in federal stimulus designed to offset the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. This bill was enacted to bridge the gap as the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES) draws to a close. However, these two bills are different in scope and purpose. Where the previous CARESAct was designed to address immediate emergency needs for public health, ARPA has expanded provisions that are designed to help communities rebuild and develop a more resilient, equitable economy. One key feature of this new bill is that it offers expanded funding for state, local, and tribal governments of all sizes. The expanded scope of this bill provides a prime opportunity for governments to invest in long-term solutions and technology infrastructure that can help fortify communities against future challenges. 

What is ARPA

The American Recipe Plan Act (ARPA) is a $1.9 trillion economic stimulus bill designed to help the United States recover from the economic and public health crisis of COVID-19. ARPA’s $350 billion in Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds are slated to help state, local, territorial, and tribal governments to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and secure jobs. ARPA funding expenditures can be incurred until December 31, 2024, and will be released in two tranches, with the second influx coming in mid-2022. 

ARPA Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds may be used for:

  • Support Public Health Expenditures
  • Address Negative Economic Impacts caused by the Public Health Emergency
  • Replace Lost Public Sector Revenue
  • Provide premium Pay for Essential Workers
  • Invest in Water, Sewer, and Broadband Internet Infrastructure

How Does Digital Transformation fit into these Goals?

Beyond the obvious provision of supporting broadband internet infrastructure, it may not be clear how digital transformation initiatives fit into this funding. It’s one of the primary areas in which technology plays a key role in supporting public health responses. Enhancing public health data systems, streamlining public communication efforts, contact tracing, improving public health service access, and modernizing public facilities to meet pandemic operation needs all fall under this goal. Likewise, all of these services and programs can be implemented and improved with technology. 

For example, onboarding a better data and document management platform can help improve communication and records access for both onsite and remote staff. This in turn can keep vital services accessible to the public during challenging times and help meet operational goals. When paired with improvements to broadband internet, online service portals, and apps, it improves access for everyone, not just internal staff. This includes the hardest-hit communities and individuals who are hindered from requesting services in person. Ultimately, technology modernization increases efficiency in state and local governments, allowing them to deliver public services faster, more accurately, and with less in-person contact. 

Why should our Government invest these valuable funds into technology solutions?

There is no doubt that the COVID-19 pandemic has had a far-reaching impact on the economic and physical health of our communities. With so many people at risk, high unemployment, rolling shutdowns, and limited resources, there is no shortage of needs that ARPA funding could address. Immediate needs such as equipping healthcare facilities, providing premium pay for essential workers, and temporarily shoring up important public programs certainly need to be considered first. However, modernization should not be immediately dismissed. There are three primary reasons why your government should budget for technology investments:

  • Future-proofing your government
  • Rising citizen expectations
  • The safety net of additional funds

For example, onboarding a better data and document management platform can help improve communication and records access for both onsite and remote staff. This, in turn, can keep vital services accessible to the public during challenging times and help meet operational goals. When paired with improvements to broadband internet, online service portals, and apps, it improves access for everyone. Including more than only internal staff, but also the hardest-hit communities and individuals who are hindered from requesting services in person. Ultimately, technology modernization increases efficiency in state and local governments, allowing them to deliver public services faster, more accurately, and with less in-person contact. 

Think to the Future:

The first reason digital transformation is such a worthwhile investment is that it can provide long-term protection against some of the challenges governments faced during the early stages of the pandemic. Very few businesses, let alone government agencies were prepared for the shutdowns that necessitated remote work. Many workers were at a loss without access to important on-site records or clear procedures for delivering services from home. Pair this reduced operational efficiency with an increased demand for government services, and it became a perfect storm. 

Rising Expectations:

Digital transformation is becoming increasingly important for governments as tech-savvy generations rise into adulthood. As the commercial sector continues to reinvent itself with faster, more efficient digital offerings, citizens’ expectations for government services to rise in parallel. Governments cannot adapt as quickly as commercial enterprises, but that makes taking the time to invest even more essential. To effectively deliver services to an increasingly tech-savvy citizenry, governments will need to rethink some very entrenched methodologies with technology. 

Never a Better Time to Change:

ARPA funds will not be recurring so this is a great opportunity to tackle one-time expenditures such as:

  • Digitizing onsite records
  • Shifting to include more automation
  • Migrating workloads to the Cloud

These funds can provide a safety net that allows you to ride out the hiccups that come with re-structuring government processes. COVID forced business models that have remained the same for decades to suddenly adapt. With so much change happening at once, it’s prime time to re-think outdated methods and replace them with something better. The world as we know it has already been uprooted. Instead of trying to return to business as usual, it makes sense to aim for something better. ARPA funding can provide the boost your government needs to implement a more sustainable service model that better serves the community. 

For example, onboarding a better data and document management platform can help improve communication and records access for both onsite and remote staff. This, in turn, can keep vital services accessible to the public during challenging times and help meet operational goals. When paired with improvements to broadband internet, online service portals and apps improve access for everyone, not just internal staff. Also, improving access for the hardest-hit communities and individuals who are hindered from requesting services in person. Ultimately, technology modernization increases efficiency in state and local governments, allowing them to deliver public services faster, more accurately, and with less in-person contact. 

What Sorts of Technology Initiatives Can our Government Invest in?

Not every technology initiative is covered under ARPA’s provisions, however, there are plenty of places where technology can make an impact on overcoming the effects of COVID-19. 

Remote Work Technologies – Establishing a sustainable model for remote work in the event of future shutdowns is essential. This may require you to centralize your resources within the cloud, invest in better cyber security, or update your infrastructure to support digital telecommunications.

Automation – Incorporating hyper-automation technologies and AI can help reduce the burden on your staff and even improve service delivery. This can be as simple as adding and chatbot to your website to streamline after-hours service or a more comprehensive change such as adding OCR technology that reads and routes incoming service requests. There may be opportunities to eliminate human labor in certain processes using AI or workflow automation. This allows you to re-allocate your human intelligence to more critical processes. 

Data Collection, Analysis, and Visualization – Tracking and analyzing the data generated during the pandemic (and beyond) are key in planning for the future. Mobile apps, business intelligence platforms, and machine learning can help you collect data and analyze it for trends. This can help inform your decision-making, predict where vital resources will make the most impact, and take meaningful next steps. 

Digital Infrastructure and Service Delivery – Some technology solutions may require you to overhaul your physical or digital infrastructure. This can be challenging, but it can also set you up to be more adaptable moving forward. Migrating your data, workloads, and applications to the Cloud, for example, is a much more sustainable strategy than relying on quickly outdated onsite servers. Cloud migration is a great fit for ARPA funds because it’s a critical infrastructure investment that is not recurring. The heavy lifting upfront can deliver years of cost savings and improved efficiency. 

For example, onboarding a better data and document management platform can help improve communication and records access for both onsite and remote staff. This, in turn, can keep vital services accessible to the public during challenging times and help meet operational goals. When paired with improvements to broadband internet, online service portals and apps improve access for everyone, not just internal staff. Also, giving access to the hardest-hit communities and individuals who are hindered from requesting services in person. Ultimately, technology modernization increases efficiency in state and local governments, allowing them to deliver public services faster, more accurately, and with less in-person contact. 

ARPA icon

How can DOMA help?

With just a little over three years to allocate this funding, governments must plan quickly and act decisively. Deciding to invest in long-term solutions can deliver benefits for years beyond the scope of ARPA. With that in mind, it makes sense to consult with qualified technology solutions providers and establish achievable long-term goals. DOMA is an experienced provider of cloud technology and data management services for federal, state, and local government entities. We can be one part of your strategy for lasting change in your government. DOMA offers free Cloud Workloads Migration assessments to help you determine if cloud migration is the right next step for you. Additionally, we can provide effectively a la carte solutions such as OCR scanning and workflow automation that address more immediate needs. Reach out today for a free consultation and see how we can help you budget for a better future for your community. 

About DOMA- Powered by Tech, Driven by People

DOMA Technologies (DOMA) was founded in 2000 as a Cloud-based document management company. Today DOMA delivers comprehensive solutions using the latest tools to help you collaborate with enterprise data. DOMA captures and transforms information through digital solutions using hyper-automation. Our data and document solutions pair traditional practices like scanning with advanced cloud technology to extract, convert, and visualize the data trapped in your documents. 

These services, along with the DOMA Experience (DX) software platform are designed to help support your organization’s Digital Transformation journey. With a considerable portfolio of governmenthealthcareeducation, and commercial business customers DOMA has the experience and infrastructure to deploy integrated solutions that address your business challenges with innovation. Contact DOMA to digitize your workflow; DOMA makes complex operations simple across a wide range of industries.

Director of Communication

Author:

Danielle Wethington
Director of Communications
DMT@DOMAonline.com

Sources:

1.  Form Statistic Facts

Learn More About DOMA & ARPA

Find out more about the American Rescue Plan Act and how you can make the most of your funding. 

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