Open the Books!

By Joyce O. Ajayi

Did you know that since the pandemic, the U.S. Treasury has disbursed to Arkansas a one-time influx of about $2.8 billion under the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA)? That’s almost $1,000 per Arkansan. 

Of these funds, about $1 billion is designated as Local Fiscal Recovery Fund (LFRF). The LFRF is designed to provide needed relief to local governments to fund unexpected eligible expenses made towards vital public services and help replace lost revenue. The funds will help local governments like counties and municipalities with economic recovery, having been on the frontlines in responding to the pandemic.

Having pumped so many tax dollars towards a robust economic recovery, transparency and accountability must be part of the entire process. In my recent op-ed in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, “Open the books: Follow the (covid relief) money”, I write about how the Arkansas state government can encourage fiscal transparency of the influx of the ARPA funds by providing technical assistance to each of Arkansas’ 75 counties on how the funds can be spent, tracked, and reported. I also encouraged local governments to report all uses of the ARPA funds using open government initiatives such as data portals and websites for public monitoring of government spending.

Transparency is helping residents know their money is spent on true relief. It is also crucial to a well-functioning and democratic government.”

You can read the entire op-ed here.

For more of our research on local government transparency, go here.