New Treasury Office Will Oversee Covid Relief and Recovery Programs

Billions in state and local government aid is part of the office's portfolio.

The U.S. Treasury Department said Wednesday that it is establishing a new office to lead the implementation of coronavirus economic relief and recovery programs, including initiatives funneling billions of dollars in aid from the federal government to states and localities.

Part of the Office of Recovery Programs' portfolio will be the State and Local Fiscal Recovery Fund. That's the roughly $350 billion pool of aid included in the relief legislation that President Biden signed into law early last month. The money is being divided up between states and thousands of cities, towns and counties around the country.

The office will also take the lead administering the Coronavirus Relief Fund, the state and local aid program that was included in last year's CARES Act. This was the program that directed $139 billion to states and larger-sized localities. Congress late last year extended the deadline to use that money by a year to Dec. 31, 2021.

Along with the state and local aid, the office will oversee a slate of other programs focused on areas like assisting renters, homeowners, businesses and transportation services. Up until now, different offices within Treasury led the various coronavirus relief initiatives that the department is responsible for.

“A new, cohesive model for recovery program implementation at Treasury will help get relief distributed quickly and into the hands of those who need it most,” Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo said in a statement. 

Jacob Leibenluft will serve as the office's chief officer and will work closely with Gene Sperling, the White House's American Rescue Plan Coordinator and an advisor to Biden. Members of the U.S. Conference of Mayors last week discussed the latest round of local aid with Leibenluft and Sperling.

The National Association of Counties noted Wednesday that it had urged Treasury in March to create a centralized office for best practices and stakeholder engagement for the new state and local recovery fund. NACo applauded the department for taking that step.

"With this new Treasury office, we are in a better position to ensure enhanced public accountability and appropriate local decision making with these much-needed federal resources," NACo Executive Director Matthew Chase said in a statement.

Bill Lucia is a senior editor for Route Fifty and is based in Olympia, Washington.

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