Using Federal and Grant Funds: Resources for Public Sector Leaders

Gordian recently teamed up with Government Business Council, the research division of GovExec, to learn about the challenges state and local governments and public school districts face when accessing available funds for important facilities and infrastructure projects. This survey, which resulted in an actionable playbook, revealed several eye-opening insights.

When identifying all obstacles preventing them from receiving federal funding or state grants, 45% of the 200 survey respondents told us they are unsure which projects qualify for federal funds. 43% indicated compliance concerns and 18% said they lacked awareness about federal funds.

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Judging by these survey results, it appears there’s an information gap among public sector leaders. Closing this gap will help them take advantage of funding opportunities and deliver better outcomes for their communities. To that end, we put together some helpful information and collected a few resources to demystify accessing and using federal funds for facilities and infrastructure projects.

Notable Funding Opportunities

By no means an exhaustive list, these are a few significant funding opportunities available to leaders and decision-makers in the public sector.

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES) – Passed in March of 2020, this bill provided emergency relief to state and local governments, individuals and businesses. The CARES Act released funds for individual stimulus and federally guaranteed loans known as the Paycheck Protection Program.

The Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (CRRSA) – Passed in late 2020, the CRRSA appropriates relief for scores of agencies and departments including the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Commerce, the Department of Energy and the Department of Justice.

The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARP) – Passed approximately one year after the CARES Act, the ARP includes funding for states to provide childcare assistance to essential workers, money for Head Start agencies, COVID-19 testing, vaccination and mitigation measures, and community mental health services, to name a few.

Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief funds (ESSER) – ESSER funds refer to $122 billion of federal funding released for updating, renovating and reopening schools in the wake of the pandemic.

There’s no substitute for due diligence. Staying informed about all the funding available requires keeping tabs on government-maintained resources such as legislative texts published by Congress. Online tools like can also help state and local leaders identify existing or upcoming opportunities within the federal grantmaking space.

Get access to more actionable insights for using federal and state grant funding by downloading our free playbook.

Deadlines for Obligating and Expending Funds

Grant and aid funding is a use it or lose it proposition. Recipients must obligate funds and spend them on specific deadlines. Here are some key dates to remember.

ESSER I funds from the CARES Act
  • Obligation deadline: EXPIRED
  • Expenditure deadline: January 28, 2023
ESSER II funds from the CRRSA
  • Obligation deadline: September 30, 2023
  • Expenditure deadline: January 28, 2024
ESSER funds from the ARP
  • Obligation deadline: September 30, 2024
  • Expenditure deadline: January 28, 2025
State & Local Fiscal Recovery Fund (SLFRF) dollars from the ARP
  • Obligation deadline: December 31, 2024
  • Expenditure deadline: December 31, 2026

Check out this curated collection of helpful resources for public sector procurement leaders who want to harness federal and state funding opportunities.

Where to Turn for Compliance Info

Public sector agencies must stay abreast of all statutory obligations. It would be costly both financially and reputationally to return misused funds. These two resources will help you stay on the right side of regulations.

Uniform Guidance – The Office of Management and Budget’s Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards. Includes all the rules you’ll need to follow for managing federal funding and staying out off the auditor’s radar.

Education Department General Administrative Regulations (EDGAR) – These rules govern all federal grants for education. While the U.S. Department of Education points to Uniform Guidance for much of its guidance, parts of EDGAR are still applicable.

Helpful Resources from Gordian

If a subject is important to the leaders charged with budgeting, building and maintaining capital-intensive public sector assets, then it’s important to us. Here are a few resources we’ve authored to help you learn more about using federal funds.

Building the Future: What Public Sector Leaders Say About Using State and Federal Aid – Using insights from our survey of public sector leaders and practitioners, we partnered with GovExec to create an actionable playbook for those interested in using state and federal aid for facilities and infrastructure projects. These straightforward tips are designed to give you the confidence to take advantage of these unprecedented funding opportunities.

Federal Funding for State and Local Governments Resource Hub – In the interest of helping demystify federal funding for state and local governments, we’ve put together this collection of resources, designed to illustrate the funding available and how to get it, tips for allocating those funds wisely and how your peers from around North America are putting federal funds to work.

Accessing Funds Requires Vigilance and Diligence

There’s no sense in sugarcoating it: Using federal funds is difficult and demanding. It requires that public sector leaders get aware and stay aware of opportunities, sift through legalese to identify if their projects qualify and keep a sharp eye on the calendar so they don’t miss important deadlines. But the benefits to the community are worth the effort. A grant-funded project – an expanded school, a repaired bridge, a new road – can change the trajectory of your community for generations.

About Gordian

Gordian is the leader in facility and construction cost data, software and services for all phases of the building lifecycle. A pioneer of Job Order Contracting, Gordian’s solutions also include proprietary RSMeans data construction costs and Facility Intelligence Solutions. From planning to design, to procurement, construction and operations, Gordian’s solutions help clients maximize efficiency, optimize cost savings and increase building quality.