Skip to Content

Yes, you can use CARES funding to invest in procurement software—but time is running out

October 5, 2020 | Emily Lambert

Close-up of American 50 dollar bill

December 30 is fast-approaching, and with it, the deadline to spend your CARES Act funding. 

According to the House Committee on Ways and Means, state and local governments have received roughly over $765 billion in federal coronavirus funding. As of August 2020, however, state and local governments have only spent 25% of their funding.

We get it—keeping your head above water while responding to the new and emerging needs of your constituents is hard enough, and trying to get a bird’s eye view on how to use your funding in the most effective way possible is no easy task, especially under such a tight timeline. However, you could be leaving funds on the table that could help you invest in tools that will offset some budget pressures that are expected to emerge in 2021. The time to act on your CARES funding is now.

During the early days of the pandemic, many public agency CFO offices turned to their procurement function as a critical area to focus CARES funding to keep essential goods and services flowing to their respective towns, cities, schools, and constituents while most had shifted to a remote work environment. And today, 7 months into the pandemic, procurement technology continues to be an area where public institutions are directing CARES funding to help drive maximum ROI on these funds, all while easing COVID-19-related challenges that your agencies and citizens are facing. 

Get the most out of your CARES funding by pandemic-proofing your procurement process 

According to guidance by the U.S. Department of the Treasury, eligible expenditure for reimbursement under the CARES Act is any “COVID-19-related expenses reasonably necessary to the function of government that satisfy the Fund’s eligibility criteria.”

So does procurement software qualify? Absolutely! 

Investing your CARES dollars in a sourcing software solution (like Bonfire) can serve as a force multiplier, driving greater impact even with limited resources so that you can get goods and services to your constituents quickly and compliantly. The right digital tools can empower procurement teams to reduce costs and drive the best value in bids and RFx for their agency by streamlining manual tasks, increasing vendor competition, and fostering stakeholder collaboration.

In fact, 73% of organizations are prioritizing digital procurement to enable business continuity while working remotely. That’s because agencies are seeking digital transformation to handle new and unique challenges due to COVID-19. Competitive events need to be efficient while maintaining compliance, which is why the average RFP requires 15% fewer evaluators. 21% of evaluations are done outside of office hours, a 62% increase from before COVID-19, meaning evaluators expect more flexibility and convenience than ever before. 

Academic institutions in particular saw a dramatic change as they prepared for virtual, physical, or hybrid classrooms in August and September. An analysis of our own database found that schools have seen a 367% increase in cleaning and disinfecting solution projects, a 122% increase in tablets and computer projects, and a 183% increase in cybersecurity software and equipment projects. 

In addition to all these new challenges, state and local governments are still bracing for the economic fallout predicted for the rest of 2020/2021. As a result, procurement departments are being tasked with doing more with less—less budget and less headcount. For agencies continuing to run their processes over paper and email, finding opportunities to cut costs and drive value amidst resource constraints presents a huge challenge.

Texans Can Academies brought their procurement process online to adapt to these new challenges. Using Bonfire Strategic Sourcing Software, they were able to quickly find vendors to assist with the Academy’s COVID-19 response. Marian P. Hamlett, Chief Financial Officer at Texans Can Academies, said, “One of our first projects was to put out an RFP for COVID-19 consultants to help us with our school reopening plans. I would have never known where to start. Through Bonfire, I was able to find and invite over 150 vendors to participate and we successfully found a contractor that will walk beside us as we figure out how to safely reopen our schools.” 

Leveraging software to respond to the COVID-19-related needs of constituents is not limited to academic institutions, either. Terry White, IT procurement expert covering procurement and disruptive technologies at global research firm Omdia said, “It has never been more important for government procurement teams to strengthen, stabilize, and regulate the procurement process with digital tools. Work from home, flexible working hours, and the need for rapid and efficient processing and evaluation of bids demands it. If not for the government agency themselves, then for the citizens they serve.” 

Procurement is the life source of any city, town, state, municipality, or any public sector entity needing to procure the right resources to keep their communities safe and operational. Software can help fasttrack that process and make public spending go even further, making it an ideal purchase for which to put your CARES funding towards. 

Get started with these 3 easy steps 

The right procurement software can empower you to maximize your budget and exponentially grow your CARES dollars. If you’re ready to start exploring procurement software options that can be expensed through CARES, here are your next steps.

1. Confirm that you have access to CARES funding. If you aren’t sure, speak to your finance department. Or, check out this list.

2. Get to know which procurement solutions are eligible for CARES funding. For instance, Bonfire Strategic Sourcing Software qualifies for CARES, and we’ve already helped CARES recipients sign-on and ensure their funding reporting obligations are met. We’d love to help you as well.

3. Get started as soon as possible—December 30 will be here before you know it! Let our experts help you get up and running with Strategic Sourcing Software in as little as one week.

December 30 is just around the corner; don’t lose your CARES funding by missing the deadline. If you’re still stuck on how to maximize your CARES funding to address constituents’ needs in the most impactful way possible, we’ve teamed up with grants management leader eCivis to bring you THE definitive guide on finding and maximizing your COVID-19 funding. Download your copy for free here.

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.