Like most federal programs, the $1.2 trillion in funding made available through the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) is subject to complex and regularly evolving regulations, policies, and guidance. These requirements will inevitably shape project selection and implementation of our nation’s infrastructure for decades.
Though less than 10% of funding has been allocated so far, state and local governments need to prepare now to ensure strategic and compliant implementation of their future IIJA-funded programs. Proper planning will help you navigate rapidly changing policies, stand up to potential Office of Inspector General (OIG) audit scrutiny, and avoid the risk of funding claw backs.
Understanding and navigating complex federal requirements is nothing new to White House Senior Advisor and Infrastructure Coordinator Mitch Landrieu or to Plexos Group's Chief Strategy Officer, Paul Rainwater. As the New York Times recently pointed out, Landrieu and Rainwater collaboratively utilized federal funds to help rebuild the City of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. In particular, that article explains how partisan interpretations of project eligibility within the IIJA may vary, as underscored in a recent letter to all governors from Senator Shelley Moore Capito, the top republican on the environment and public works panel, and Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell.
While these federal funding programs will take years to fully implement, here are three important steps for state and local governments to take now:
- Make a Plan – First and foremost, create a strategic framework for managing your funding. Identify the amount of funding expected, understand the timelines and compliance requirements to keep the money, and ensure eligible use of that funding. Mine your data to identify unmet needs and pinpoint disproportionately impacted communities or sectors. Don’t forget to review the data regularly to spot opportunities to improve the plan.
- Use Technology to Streamline the Process – Federal funding programs require a tremendous amount of time, money, and compliance oversight. Use technology to streamline every phase, from project identification to implementation, and closeout. Workflow software platforms provide visibility and control over accounting data, documentation, case management, work streams, and regulatory deadlines. The right system will also help manage risk associated with adverse audit findings as well as administrative or internal transition periods.
- Build a Team – Highly complex and rapidly changing federal funding programs often require full-time, dedicated support. They demand full attention, regardless of your government’s available capacity and competing priorities. Don’t go it alone. Successful implementations are built on input and expertise gathered from a wide variety of multi-disciplinary subject matter experts including accountants, engineers, planners, auditors, and cost estimators. Many programs allow portions of the funding to be used toward hiring program management firms and setting up systems to facilitate program delivery.
Plexos Group is a leading program delivery and project management company. Our experienced subject matter experts and agile technology platform, Projexis, streamline large-scale and complex projects funded by disaster recovery and other public and private sources.
Contact Us to learn how we can help you streamline complex and resource-heavy programs funded by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.