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Public Defender Commission Newsletter on 7/9/2021
On June 23, the U.S. Department of the Treasury released a new round of frequently asked questions (FAQs) that provide guidance to state & local governments on allowable uses of federal funds received through the American Rescue Plan. The document included the following question and answer:
Q: “Would expenses to address a COVID-related backlog in court cases be an eligible use of funds as a response to the public health emergency?
A: …Court backlogs resulting from inability of courts to safely operate during the COVID-19 pandemic decreased the government’s ability to administer services. Therefore, steps to reduce these backlogs, such as implementing COVID-19 safety measures to facilitate court operations, hiring additional court staff or attorneys to increase speed of case resolution, and other expenses to expedite case resolution are eligible uses.”
Other sections of the FAQs make it clear that premium pay for those involved (including retroactively to March 3, 2021) is also an allowable use of the funds.
Treasury will release the final administrative rule for use of the funds on some date after July 16, and the State’s Office of Management and Budget Director has indicated that major decisions regarding use of the “government services” portion of the funding will not be made until the rule is final.