How to Jumpstart Your Recovery from COVID-19
The COVID-19 pandemic has turned the nation upside down, and American lives are changing in new ways daily. Today, we are seeing positive cases surge across the country while many communities brace for the impacts of a devastating second wave. Consequently, business, community, and government leaders are continuing to face significant budget shortfalls while continuing to encumber unforeseen expenses. While federal aid to assist them with cost-recovery is available, it has been dispersed across numerous federal departments and agencies posing considerable bureaucratic challenges. Therefore, expeditious financial assistance is difficult to obtain, often resulting in consequential delays for those in immediate need.
UnSplash: Scott Graham
Hagerty can help. In this unique environment, Hagerty professionals are prepared to support a wide range of recovery needs. Our firm has extensive experience helping clients learn how to: manage funds in a results-driven way to account for future impacts; understand what federal funding they are entitled to; and establish a sound readiness posture as they adjust to a “new normal.”
While the road to recovery from COVID-19 will be long, here are some important tips to jumpstart the process.
Take inventory and track incurred costs. It is critically important to assess the financial impact the crisis is causing, and likely to cause, a business or community. To do this effectively, first take inventory of available resources. This helps better understand where gaps are, and what is needed to fill them to ensure successful short-term response and long-term financial recovery.
While federal funding programs provide the opportunity to better prepare for, respond to, and recover from the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, many of these programs are reimbursement mechanisms that require proof of expenditure and loss. Therefore, proactive management and tracking of response activities and associated costs will be the key to success when applying for federal grants.
To begin the tracking process, here are some best practices to follow:
- Establish clear roles, responsibilities, and procedures for document collection, organization, and review.
- Create activity logs that can be used to track qualitative information needed to support costs infcurred.
- Generate unique project numbers, activity codes, and descriptions for tracking costs. It is also vitally important to save all documentation associated with these costs.
- Establish reporting dashboards and summaries to understand the financial impact and costs, as well as support future financial decision-making.
- Communicate and train employees on the documentation and tracking process. An informed workforce is critical to future success.
Understand cost-recovery opportunities. Given the significant, unforeseen costs associated with the pandemic, Congress appropriated nearly $3 trillion, and is considering more, to assist state, local, tribal, and territorial governments; healthcare systems and hospitals; as well as some private businesses with cost-recovery. While federal financial support is greatly needed, the increasingly complex eligibility requirements associated with it unintentionally causes many to leave eligible federal funding on the table, thereby slowing the overall pace of recovery.
To tackle this challenge, it is important to create a recovery roadmap. Once again, cost-tracking is important as expenses incurred and revenue lost must be cataloged and justified. Then it is time to strategically sequence and apply for available funding opportunities. This is best done using a single program that can actively seek reimbursement and manage any potential duplication of benefits, which could lead to grant denial. This is not a one-size fits all approach as each recovery is different and varying funding sources are available across the federal government and the private sector – each with their own grant and regulatory compliance requirements. Moreover, it is important to establish an understanding of existing funding overlaps as duplicative benefits could lead to grant denial.
Prepare for future needs. As the COVID-19 response continues to evolve and the potential for a second wave looms, it is important to take the time now to reflect upon prior response efforts to understand what worked well and what did not. After-action reporting is designed to do just that – analyze the management of and response to an incident by identifying strengths to be maintained and built upon, as well as identifying potential areas for improvement. Relevant to the pandemic, it is important to focus on critical functions that can save lives such as logistics management, supply burn rates and tracking, situation assessment and reporting, and crisis communications.
Additionally, as the response and recovery to COVID-19 continues, it is important to be prepared to simultaneously respond to other hazards. Soon, the nation will enter the historical height of hurricane season in the east and the peak time for wildland fires in the west. The pandemic has prompted new challenges and often unpredictable needs for resources, policies, and personnel – now is the time to consider these needs. In this rapidly changing environment, exercises, workshops, and other facilitated discussions should be used to test adaptations that may be necessary during a COVID-19 co-response.
Let Hagerty be a part of your solution. Community recovery from COVID-19 will be a marathon, not a sprint. As the nation seeks to establish a “new normal,” Hagerty understands our clients’ needs are and will continue to be dynamic, and we stand ready to address emerging priorities. We can help navigate this complicated landscape by tailoring a wide range of services to meet your needs.
With the assistance of our digital grants management tools, Hagerty’s diverse team of policy, healthcare, and financial management experts work the overall cost-recovery and reimbursement application process from start to finish, offering real-time guidance and navigation of the often complex and fluid funding streams available across all levels of government as well as the private sector. Furthermore, this process establishes automated reporting which many federal agencies require for the purpose of detailed record-keeping purposes, particularly in the event of a future audit. Moreover, because Hagerty places a premium on quality work, an investment in our services today, could save you significant time and money in the future. Throughout the long-term recovery process, our professionals emphasize the importance of timeliness and efficiency balanced with regulatory compliance. This ensures you are positioned to capture all eligible costs for reimbursement while minimizing the risk of negative audit findings and grant clawback in the future.
Additionally, even in times of significant fiscal instability and uncertainty, our experts can help at little-to-no additional cost to many of our clients. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) provides funding for administrative costs related to managing Public Assistance (PA) grants and the application process. This funding is available for PA-eligible applicants – state, local, tribal, territorial governments, and certain non-profit organizations – and their respective sub-applicants. This funding may be used to hire disaster recovery consultant experts, like ours, to strategically augment staffing capabilities and expedite results when they are needed the most.
To learn more about our firm and our work during COVID-19, please visit Hagerty’s ‘Disaster Discourse’ Blog.
Kyle McPhee, currently Director of Preparedness Programs for Hagerty, is an experienced management professional who has worked with international, national, regional, state, local and private-sector organizations in the areas of emergency management, homeland security, business continuity, and public health preparedness. His expertise includes project management, planning, facilitation and evaluation related to various topics including catastrophic incidents, mission ready packages, mass care, and evacuation