Guidance for Smaller Jurisdictions Seeking CARES Act Funding for Virtual Needs

The federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), which was enacted March 27, 2020 provides $150 billion to assist state, local, tribal, and territorial (SLTT) governments in responding to the coronavirus pandemic through a newly established Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF). The U.S. Treasury Department has provided this funding to the states, local government, tribes and territories (SLTT) governments by formula.

Funding conditions: CRF funding can be used to fund code department virtual (virtual inspections, e-permitting, and remote plan review) needs so long those needs were not addressed in a budget approved as of March 27, 2020 and the funding is allocated before the end of 2020. Additional guidance from Treasury is available here and a FAQ is available here.

Activities SLTTs will fund and timeline: Individual SLTTs will determine which activities will receive funding based on the priorities that individual SLTTs identify as “necessary expenditures” due to the public health emergency. The SLTT will also determine the timeline for distributing the funds. Funding announcements have been made through press releases and executive orders.

What You Can Do: Localities with populations under 500,000 need to work through their state to access CRF funding. Non-county localities with populations under 500,000 may also work through their county to access this funding if their county received CRF funds directly. The amount of funding allocated to states and counties/localities with populations above 500,000 is listed here. Treasury permits recipients of CARES Act funding to transfer funding to constituent local governments.  

  • Talk with the decision makers in your jurisdiction and ask who the person is in your jurisdiction that knows about accessing federal grants and funds. That person should know the gauntlet the state and or county has and how to run a request for funds.
  • Be persistent and advocate for your needs.
  • Explain to the decision makers that employees in building and fire prevention departments have been identified as essential workers.
  • Make the point that these federal funds can be used to improve and enhance your jurisdictions ability to perform e-permitting, remote plan review and virtual inspections.

BUILDING SAFETY and COVID – 19 Survey Results


  • 23% Said their employees do not have access to needed hard copy code books
  • 40% Do not have the capability to do electronic/remote plan reviews
  • 30% Do not have the capability to do any aspect of electronic/remote permitting
  •  61% Do not have the capability for electronic/remote inspections

We encourage our members, partners, and allies to advocate to their state and, where appropriate, their county, that CRF funding be provided to assist code departments in developing virtual capabilities. The best time to shape the scope of what activities an individual SLTT will fund is prior to that SLTT’s developing initial guidance. That’s why advocacy now (in June at the latest) is critical. Talking points are available here. We encourage you to coordinate your efforts with your Government Relations staff liaison. Until specific appointments are made to administer CRF funds, advocacy should be directed to the SLTT’s executive branch (e.g. Governor, County Executive, etc.).