The Power of Peer Networking: How ARP Can Transform Government Tech and Service Delivery if We Help Leaders Invest Wisely

June 8, 2021–By Ariel Kennan and Kevin Parker

The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in an era-defining series of systemic failures that have altered the lives of Americans and brought the institutions that serve them to their breaking points. This once-in-a-generation crisis requires a once-in-a-generation investment—one that prioritizes improved service delivery and technology at all levels of government and in each and every state, municipality, tribe, and territory.

With the passage of the American Rescue Plan Act (ARP) in March 2021, $350 billion will flow into local, state, tribal and territorial governments in the coming months. If leveraged effectively, this recovery funding has the projected potential to cut the national poverty rate by more than one-third and cut child poverty in half; fill gaps in critical healthcare coverage; and reduce the digital divide. But government leaders need support to leverage these resources, and without objective, data-informed guidance and peer-learning opportunities, they may lack the tools and nuanced information necessary to achieve meaningful, sustained impact for their constituents.

On April 29, the Beeck Center convened more than 30 representatives from state, local, tribal, and territorial jurisdictions for an afternoon of learning and discussion about the ARP and the opportunities it presents. In that event, we heard from federal leaders who underscored the incredible opportunities for ARP resources to support technology modernization and data investments that can support ARP-related priorities and also be useful to deliver services and carry out missions overall. We also saw demos from leading-edge governments that have already made important strides on some of the programs covered in the ARP.

We are now launching a series of focused workshops for government teams working in state, local, tribal, and territorial governments centered on specific priorities of the ARP—including unemployment insurance, safety net benefits, broadband access, rental assistance, and other high-priority needs.

Through this workshop series, the Beeck Center aims to foster a community of sharing and collaboration as government practitioners navigate this historic influx of investment. Specifically, we intend to send government attendees home with useful, actionable resources to help them implement ARP priorities using leading data and tech tools and practices. As conveners, we value our role as a trusted, neutral space to share ideas, workable solutions, anecdotal experiences, and lessons learned so that peers across geographies and issue areas feel supported as they navigate the requirements and opportunities ahead. We also value our role as an aggregator of resources, and have created a Tech & Delivery with the ARP website to house legislative highlights, share insights and guidance from across the field and spotlight innovative projects.

Partnering with us to lead these workshops are organizations including Results for America, U.S. Digital Response, Code for America, and New America. Government colleagues currently in roles in state, local, tribal, or territorial governments are welcome to register and attend. While we will be focused on the data and technology opportunities, those tools go hand-in-hand with the policy goals laid out in the ARP and we encourage government tech leaders to pair up with their relevant policy counterparts as well as their contracting and budgeting teammates to attend the different sessions. The workshops will be closed, confidential spaces for discussion and learning. There is no charge to attend, but we do ask that attendees pre-register.

Register for ARP workshops on the Tech & Delivery with the ARP website.

We know the stakes are high and we all may have more questions than answers around how to navigate ARP investment right now. Through our workshop series and accompanying resource guide, we hope to set governments across the country on a path to confidently, strategically, and equitably invest in data and technology infrastructure to strengthen long-term service delivery.

Ariel Kennan, a leader in civic service design, technology and organizational strategy who strives to create a world where everyone can prosper, is a Senior Fellow at the Beeck Center for Social Impact + Innovation at Georgetown University focused on the layers of infrastructure needed to operate and govern our institutions to better serve residents and improve outcomes in society.

Kevin Parker, a champion of public entrepreneurship and enhancing the citizen experience, is a Fellow at the Beeck Center for Social Impact + Innovation at Georgetown University focused on convening government practitioners to strategically implement the American Rescue Plan.