Technology Projects Eligible for American Rescue Plan Funds

When Congress passed the American Rescue Plan Act in March as a way to create economic relief from the damages of the coronavirus pandemic, it opened up a total of $65.1 billion for municipal governments to use in a number of ways. Municipalities are now working through fund usage ideas using the Interim Final Rule, also known as the IFR, a guidance document created by the U.S. Department of Treasury. That document outlines several ways cities and towns can use their funds for technology projects.

Broadband development 
Because the pandemic powerfully demonstrated the importance of high-speed internet for work, healthcare and education, ARP fund recipients can use their money for broadband internet projects. 

Projects generally must create internet access that reliably reaches at least 100 megabits per second, both for download and upload speeds. The IFR document allows for a lower upload speed standard of 20 Mbps in cases where excessive cost of the project, or geography or topography creates difficulties, as long as the project is “scalable” to the higher 100 Mbps standard.

These eligible projects must also provide service for areas that have been underserved by internet availability. The IFR defines this as areas lacking internet service with at least 25 Mbps as a download speed, and 3 Mbps as an upload speed. 

The Department of Treasury has also encouraged the use of funds for “last-mile connections,” connecting existing networks across the final distance to new users. It also encouraged projects that involve those networks affiliated with nonprofit and cooperative groups rather than for-profit providers. 

The IFR indicates that cybersecurity modernization projects are an allowable use. This can be “hardware, software, and protection of critical infrastructure, as part of provision of government services up to the amount of revenue lost due to the public health emergency.” 

Learn more about ARP rules and U.S. Treasury Department guidelines online.