Awards given by HHS using the additional emergency funds made available in March and April 2020.
by James C. Sherlock
The federal government must distribute $ 7 trillion in additional COVID-related adjuncts that have already been approved or are pending.
Real money, and we borrowed every penny.
Hard to understand so much money. That’s $ 7 million million.
I will try to reduce that to a human level here. In full, as is the point here, no system of government that we have put in place can manage it well.
To make this clear, I took a long look at data from a single federal ministry, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), to see for all of us how some of the ocean of federal COVID funds has been distributed so far.
You can see on the map that the total amount of grants made by HHS from the COVID adjuncts passed in March and April 2020 alone is $ 26 billion. So far, $ 470 million of this has gone to governments and private institutions in Virginia.
The human-sized example I’m going to offer for consideration is the distribution of HHS COVID-related grants for Head Start Programs in Virginia. Some programs, particularly in school districts and larger nonprofits, have multiple locations. There are 423 federally funded Head Start locations in Virginia.
The following appendix is the result of my search and the basis for my assessments here.
TAGGS Virginia head start
Head Start programs include Head Start, Early Head Start, and Migrant and Seasonal Head Start. All three are included when the term projection is used in this paper.
The distribution of the COVID money across these programs was very random and uneven. That was not the government’s intention, that is exactly what happened.
- The additional COVID head start money is a grant, and the grants were not made automatically, but had to be applied for.
- Inevitably, some grant applications were better prepared than others. Some applications were initially rejected.
- The data shows that many potential recipients did not apply. They may not have learned of the program in time at the necessary levels of bureaucracy to act within the deadlines of the application cycle. For example, this could be the case with the city of Virginia Beach. I don’t know if the federal government or the Virginia government has notified potential beneficiaries of the grant’s availability. For smaller potential beneficiaries, gathering the necessary information and applying for a federal grant may have exceeded the skills of their staff in the circumstances of COVID.
- It is also true that the federal agencies were guided by the text of the legislation to get the money out the door quickly. Quick is the enemy of caution.
The money in the data is just additional funding provided by the March and April 2020 legislation. These specific funds are still being distributed So there is a lot more money than was previously distributed. Again, this was and will be the subject of “emergency” distribution rules.
In that tiny sample, the total amount allocated to Head Start Programs in Virginia from the March and April funds to date was $ 12.6 million. The entry fee goes to government agencies as well as directly to individual providers.
I don’t know how much more money from the March and April funds is in HHS waiting to be claimed.
Below are a few examples of what the data suggests.
The geographic distribution of the additional Head Start money in Virginia was a major anomaly.
People, Inc. of southwest Virginia in Abingdon received nearly $ 460,000. It seems like a great organization with a 55 year history in Abington. I want to make a comparison with other potential recipients and geographic areas, not as a reflection of this organization.
People Inc.’s 2019 Annual Report found that “295 preschool-age children were prepared for entry into public schools this year.” If it prepared the same number of children in 2020 as it did in 2019 (and may not have done so due to COVID), that organization received additional head-start funding of $ 1,559 for each child – money that COVID was deployed in the first two months of the year.
All of South Hampton Roads of 1.2 million residents received less than $ 200,000 from the same scholarship program. That money went to Mile High Kids and Community Development Inc. in Norfolk.
Virginia Beach, Portsmouth, Chesapeake, and Suffolk head start programs received nothing. The data shows that no potential recipients applied there. Norfolk City has apparently not applied either.
The local government jurisdictions are the cities of Alexandria, Newport News, Richmond and Fredericksburg and the counties Loudoun, Hanover, Culpeper, Fairfax, Augusta, Spotsylvania, Buchanan, Hopewell, Lee, Prince William, Orange, Chesterfield and Henrico, Halifax, Stafford, Scott and York. No others are listed.
Local government winners were the Newport News Office of Human Affairs for over $ 1.1 million and the Richmond City Public School District for $ 811,000. Again, this is just additional Head Start money.
The $ 460,000 grant to People, Inc. of Southwest Virginia in Abingdon was discussed above.
In another example, the Children’s Center, a not-for-profit that offers both Head Start and Early Head Start programs in Franklin, was awarded nearly $ 500,000.
The bigger lessons
No government has been formed to do what the American and Virginia governments are currently asking – to handle the “emergency distribution” of that level of money.
The efficiency and effectiveness of the distribution and the traceability of expenses on this scale are beyond the government’s capabilities.
Part of this is – in the mathematical sense of the word – not appropriated rationally against a superordinate metric such as the total number of school children per state. Some will.
Part of this is not distributed rationally by the federal government, even within overarching metrics. This is demonstrated by this tiny example of Virginia Head Start that only involved the federal government and applicants.
Unexpected grants, which must be applied for within a short period of time with all the correct information, have either gone unnoticed or are beyond the capabilities of many local governments and small private businesses.
The Commonwealth government will work under the same weight. It is not structured to spend or distribute this level of funding with this short fuse.
All of this is true before we consider government-level political motivations and both wrongdoing and wrongdoing at the points where the money is ultimately spent.
So we citizens read our newspapers, watch television and search the Internet for news about this unimaginable amount of money that future generations will have to repay. We watch politicians argue about the adequacy of the funds, but not the lack of government skills to manage them.
In doing this, we need to understand that the issue of governance is a big issue. You will rarely, if ever, read in the press what a large government largely favors or at least does not want to appear critical of officials. I speak for officials, not against them. You just can’t do this by the standards that most of them set for themselves. Things like that frustrate the best.
Our governments will not handle this well because they cannot manage anything efficiently, effectively and transparently on this monumental scale and within these deadlines.
This is an allegory for all of the tremendous new things some people want from the government now and in a hurry.
Keep in mind that they are unlikely to go well.
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