In our last article, “How Governments Can Access Grants to Fight Coronavirus,” we discussed the latest funding announcement and guidelines to help state, local, and tribal governments maximize grants to fight COVID-19 in their respective communities.
While grant funding is more abundant during this public health crisis, knowing how to actually apply for and leverage those funds is another matter. That’s why for state and local governments, it’s important to stay on top of the resources available and implement an action plan to diminish the spread of the virus–both in communities and among staff. Here are some immediate steps governments can take to ensure personnel and communities stay safe while acquiring the resources they need.
Dedicate a grants team and/or office to manage funding
The fact is–despite OMB taking steps to ease the administrative burden of applying for grants during this public health crisis–grants management is still a complex process, especially during chaotic times like these when there might be inconsistent funding information or lack of collaboration among agencies. Too often, lean teams are pulled in several different directions, making it even more difficult to ensure governments are leveraging the right grants and meeting all the necessary requirements.
You may not have time to set up a central grants office, but dedicating a team (at the very least) to coordinate incoming grants can help ease the administrative burden. This team should keep tabs on any upcoming awards and be responsible for reading the fine print as well as flagging what your agency can pursue so you can align resources to any health response for surrounding communities.
Determine if it’s time to declare an emergency
At this point, the department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has declared a public emergency as well as 48 states, and a vast (and growing) number of cities and jurisdictions, not to mention the President has declared a national emergency.
To mitigate the spread of coronavirus, declaring an emergency can be an important strategy that helps states activate the necessary emergency response plans and emergency operation centers. More importantly, it also activates funding that governments can get reimbursed for from state and federal government–funding that’s used for deploying more personnel and stocking up on essential equipment.
For example, an emergency declaration enabled Washington’s King County to quickly purchase a motel to isolate infected patients. In San Diego County, California, a local emergency declaration increased resources for beds at local hospitals, while Solano County was able to set up an operations center for screening.
With schools, restaurants, and public gatherings alike shutting down, it’s no longer a matter of if it’s suitable to declare an emergency to ensure preparedness for coronavirus but when.
Prep your teams for quarantine telework
It is critical to align teams and staff to prepare adequate response and resources for your communities. Equally important, however, is ensuring those on your staff stay healthy, as without them, your response time and accomplishments decrease. As more offices at the state and local level are directing employees to work from home, be sure personnel are prepared for an indefinite period of quarantine telework.
You can find great tips in this GovLoop article on quarantine telework, including scheduling “hot hours” where everyone is available online for meetings or phone calls; training staff in advance so they know how to communicate effectively; and continuing team building activities in virtual environments.
Additionally, Virginia’s Strategic Guide for Local Government on: Telework 360 could not be timelier in describing best practices and policies for telework, especially when governments must remain open for business.
Ultimately, preventing the spread of and responding to coronavirus rests largely on the “shoulders” of state, local, and tribal governments. As central pillars of the nation’s public health system and response, governments must ensure they maximize all the grant funding available to them while staying healthy during these turbulent times.
Need help navigating your grants management? Reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org to see how we can help.