On March 27, 2020, President Donald J. Trump signed into law the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, a package of stimulus funds that established the Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF) program. CRF provides State governments with an apportioned amount of federal funding to support public services impacted or adjusting to the presence of COVID-19.

Of these CRF dollars, Oklahoma received roughly $1.2 billion in May. The U.S. Treasury’s guidance advises the State to deliver CRF money through a reimbursement process for COVID-19 related expenses incurred at State agencies as well as with county and municipal governments.

In preparation for the distribution of these critical dollars, Governor Kevin Stitt established CARES FORWARD, a team of Cabinet Secretaries and public employees who have an expertise in finance, federal grants, and auditing and are led by the State’s Chief Operating Officer (COO) John Budd and Secretary of Budget Mike Mazzei.

The Governor established the following mission in their oversight of these federal funds:

  • Funding Opportunities: The mission of CARES FORWARD is to maximize all federal dollars available for State agencies and local governments to rebuild and recover during this unprecedented time and to maintain the integrity of Oklahoma’s $1.2 billion in Coronavirus Relief Funds (CRF) for COVID-19 related expenses, emergencies, and pandemic preparedness.
  • Rebuilding the Workforce: Following guidance from the U.S. Treasury, the State will distribute grants to assist in rebooting Oklahoma’s job creators that were affected by the presence of COVID-19.
  • Accelerating Recovery from Damages: Leveraging a new platform, the State will fulfill reimbursements and get federal funds into communities of need as quickly as possible. The State will seek to minimize risks by working in coordination with accounting experts to ensure the compliance of CRF distribution and reimbursements.

The U.S. Department of Education also provided a total of $338 million for Oklahoma’s education systems to respond to the COVID-19. Of this amount, $39.9 million was delivered through the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief (GEER) Fund. This fund was an extraordinarily flexible “emergency block grant” designed to enable governors to decide how best to meet the needs of students, schools (including charter schools and non-public schools), postsecondary institutions and other education-related organizations.

The CARES FORWARD team has requested for Oklahoma’s independent education institutions to also report their use of CARES Act funding to this website. In the meantime, this website will provide full transparency for the distribution of GEER funds, in which the Governor and his executive branch have direct oversight.

The chart below provides a full outline of federal COVID-19 funds provided to Oklahoma: