On September 21, the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) released an updated FAQ document that contains positive modifications to the reporting requirements for the Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF) that was authorized under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act (P.L. 116-136). The CRF provides $150 billion in aid for state, county and municipal governments with populations of over 500,000 people to address necessary expenditures incurred due to the COVID-19 public health emergency.
In a win for counties, OIG’s updated guidance addresses concerns made by the bipartisan organizations representing state and local governments, including NACo, regarding additional reporting and record retention requirements for counties using CRF payments. Specifically, the new OIG FAQ document addresses contradictions between OIG’s August 28 guidance and Treasury’s August 10 guidance pertaining to new requirements associated with reporting and tracking payroll expenses for public safety, public health and human services employees who are "substantially dedicated" to addressing and mitigating the impacts of COVID-19.
Of key concern to counties were the new requirements that were outlined in OIG’s original August 28 guidance, were more extensive than what was required under the U.S. Treasury’s guidance released on August 10 that focused on flexibility for local governments in order to ease administrative burdens. Counties expressed concern that these late additions to CRF reporting requirements may prevent counties from receiving reimbursements for payroll expenses incurred during the pandemic, severely impacting budget forecasts.
NACo applauds the U.S. Treasury for modifying the OIG reporting requirements, which will help counties with payroll expenses for public safety, public health and human services employees addressing the impacts of COVID-19.