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Expensing procurement software with CARES Act funding: What you need to know

November 16, 2020 | Emily Lambert

Procurement professional using procurement software acquired through the CARES Act to work from home

Established by the CARES Act, the Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF) is here to help State and some local governments respond to COVID-19. The Fund covers some more obvious expenses—like establishing temporary public medical facilities or disinfection of public areas—but it also covers those indirect costs related to COVID-19, like expenses to improve telework capabilities for public employees working from home.

We’ve previously talked about how governments can use their CARES Act funding to deliver services to communities faster than ever before with procurement software. So now what? What are the eligibility requirements for CRF dollars and how can you ensure that you’re being compliant as you’re investigating software options? We’ve got you covered. Three requirements for CRF eligibility were highlighted in recent guidance from the Department of the Treasury. In this blog, we’ve outlined how to identify procurement software that aligns with all three requirements so that you can spend your CRF dollars worry-free.

Are your expenditures necessary to address COVID-19?

The first requirement states that CRF may only be used to cover costs that “are necessary to expenditures incurred due to the public health emergency, with respect to the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19).” In their list of nonexclusive examples of eligible expenditures, the Department of the Treasury mentions expenses for public safety measures (such as maintaining social distancing) as well as expenses to improve telework capabilities for public employees.

First of all, if vendors were previously coming into the office to drop off proposals, or were mailing them in, procurement software can help maintain social distancing and limit face-to-face contact by providing vendors with an easy and convenient online submission process. Unlike email vendor submissions, which can open your agency up to significant legal risk, keep an eye out for procurement software that is built for the rigor and rules of North American public sector procurement, so you can remain rest assured that you’re maintaining compliance.

And if your team is working remotely, you can award contracts seamlessly with online bid and RFP evaluation. You can also ensure project continuity while your team is working from home with built-in communication and collaboration tools.

Were the covered costs not accounted for in your budget?

Additionally, CRF may only be used to cover costs that “were not accounted for in the budget most recently approved as of March 27, 2020 (the date of enactment of the CARES Act) for the State or government.”

This means that, even if you didn’t budget for procurement software this fiscal year, the CARES Act provides a unique opportunity to digitally transform your procurement process to make it more efficient, more collaborative, and more adaptive to emergency situations.

Are the costs incurred before December 30?

Lastly, the CARES Act provides that payments from CRF may only be used to cover costs that “were incurred during the period that begins on March 1, 2020, and ends on December 30, 2020.”

Guidance from the Department of the Treasury clarified that for a cost to be considered to have been incurred, performance or delivery must occur during the covered period but payment of funds need not be made during that time. So as long as you have implemented the software before December 30, the cost is considered “incurred,” even if you haven’t made a payment.

Since the December 30 deadline is fast-approaching, signing on with a software vendor that enables quick and organized implementation is critical. Although some solutions require 6-12 month implementations, eProcurement providers like Bonfire can provide successful implementations in as little as two weeks. Just make sure that, before signing the dotted line, you and your vendor are aligned on implementation outcomes to ensure you’re up and running with the new software before December 30.

Want more tips on how to find COVID-related funding, apply it to your missions, and multiply that funding to maximize outcomes? Download this guide full of practical insights on how to use your CARES funding as a catalyst for digital transformation that will help you thrive during the pandemic and propel you into the future.

About the author

Bonfire Blog Author Emily Lambert

Emily Lambert | Bonfire Interactive

As the Content Marketing Strategist at Bonfire, Emily writes thought leadership for procurement teams in the public sector. Best practices content for procurement professionals doesn’t have to be a chore to get through—which is why Emily strives to strike the balance of writing educational yet engaging content that inspires sourcing experts and equips them to make the best purchasing decisions.