Government & Non-Profit  
Covid-19 Cost Recovery

Financial Recovery Useful Information

What You Need to Know for Recovery

  • Assign Covid-19 cost codes to every expenditure regardless reimbursement expectations

  • Properly procure and track with document every acquisition for goods and services

  • Document every costs NOW and NOT LATER because you’re too busy

  • Begin with the end in mind with audit trails in organized formats and categories

  • Provide clear descriptions of work performed and how related to Covid-19

  • Formulate Grants(Projects) by category of costs and primary cost centers

  • Keep good timekeeping & payroll records& use  COVID-19 codes for overtime 

  • Use actual costs and best available estimates to request expedited funding ASAP

  • Make separate expedited funding requests for Public Health and Public Safety costs

  • Carefully package project documentation with peer or consultant review prior to Grants Portal Uploads

The KEY ADVICE to all FEMA Public Assistance eligible applicants to ensure they get the FEMA Public Assistance funding they’re entitled to, it’s this:

Document. Document. Document. 

Manage ALL Covid-19 expenses by SPECIAL COVID-19 COST TRACKING in your accounting and financial systems and separating the expenses that are straightforward and easy for FEMA to approve from other expenses that may not be addressed clearly in FEMA policy.

Keep every invoice and contract in an Adobe pdf file

with reference numbers to the accounting ledger codes.

Keeping thorough, specific Adobe pdf (as FEMA requires electronic versions) records of every dollar spent at the local level for preparing for and responding to COVID-19 regardless of which Federal Agency may be available for reimbursement will be critical to reimbursement and use of the FEMA web-based application process.  Also consider these reimbursement tips:

  • Purchase orders for materials and proof of payment and organize by response categories such as medical services, EOC, security, public safety, etc.
  • Payroll records detailing how employees spent BOTH regular, overtime, and detail shifts working on COVID-19 issues and their duties and tasks accomplished. FEMA wants the regular time to validate the eligible overtime.
  • Record of equipment used in response, including police cruisers on directed patrols, public works vehicles setting up barricades and ambulances on COVID-19 related calls. Be sure to include cross references to the drivers.
  • Time-stamped smartphone photographs documenting exactly what your police, fire, public works, health-department, senior-center, and other agency staff were doing where, when, and why to manage COVID-19. There are phone applications that record the time and GPS readings and use them.
  • Preserved e-mail and text-message trails documenting all requests for COVID-19 responses that your local agencies fulfilled. Clearly, document all governing body decisions and actions regarding Covid-19 expenses beyond budgeted costs for normal operations such as hazard or premium pay, essential employee  housing and meals, etc.
  • Records of all commercial insurance claim submittals and insurance payments,if any, but all medical insurance recoveries.  It is critical to exhaust all available funding from your insurance provider, as well as available funding from other federal agencies, such as those under the Department of Health and Human Services before applying for FEMA assistance.

Many applicants that have been through natural disasters since 2016 already have experienced FEMA’s new PA Delivery Model, including the Grants Portal System.  This model and system is intended to expedite funding and improve transparency.

However, it can be daunting if you have never been through it before. EVEN if you have, the new Covid-19 Simplified Application protocols will require classic accounting and financial documentation.

While the process is “simplified” it is primarily simplified on the FEMA side and the SAME CLASSIC PROJECT DOCUMENTATION AND ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENTS WILL BE PART OF THE DOCUMENTATION UPLOADED IN THE GRANTS PORTAL PACKAGES. There are a few exceptions such as small projects under $131,100 and certain in-progress work.

Disaster Financial Management Guide and COVID-19 Response

 Many government and private sector/nonprofit resources and programs are available to help jurisdictions respond and recover. Navigating various eligibility requirements and application processes can pose administrative challenges. Disaster funding or cost reimbursements are often delayed or not approved because of incomplete paperwork, missed steps in the process or a lack of understanding of the eligibility criteria.

The recently released Disaster Financial Management Guide can help a jurisdiction successfully use all available Federal resources for disaster recovery, to include the COVID-19 Supplemental Funding.

The Disaster Financial Management guide identifies the capabilities and activities necessary to prepare and successfully implement disaster financial management while maintaining fiscal responsibility throughout response and recovery operations. It includes guidance for recipients and sub-recipients on:

  • Considerations and practices for tracking, calculating and justifying the cost of an emergency
  • Supporting local reimbursement
  • Avoiding deobligation of grant
  • Effectively funding and implementing recovery projects and priorities


To support COVID-19 response and recovery, supplemental funding is available under recently enacted laws, to include:

  • Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act
  • Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Act
  • Families First Response Act

 Although the Disaster Financial Management Guide takes an all-hazards approach and addresses a broad range of issues that jurisdictions face, the concepts, principles and resources it outlines directly apply to the current operational environment and ongoing COVID-19 response and recovery efforts.

On the following page, this Fact Sheet briefly summarizes relevant financial management concepts and principles discussed in the Disaster Financial Management Guide.

Financial Management Practices to Use During the COVID-19 Response

The following concepts and principles are found in the Disaster Financial Management Guide. Jurisdictions should consider implementing these activities during the ongoing response to, and recovery from, COVID-19.

Portfolio and Project Management

Project management entails accurately managing the complex disaster budget to pay all bills, release funding according to schedule and maintain accurate financial records and documents. Portfolio management are the prioritizes and authorizes the group of related projects or programs to achieve a strategic objective.

Knowledge of Procurement and Contract Practices

Jurisdictions must follow Federal procurement under grants and subawarding regulations, as well as applicable state, local, tribal or territorial (SLTT) requirements. Follow the rule that will comply with all applicable layers of rules—sometimes Federal rules are more restrictive; sometimes SLTT rules are.

Document All Expenditures Related to the COVID-19 Response

Jurisdictions should document every expenditure related to response and recovery, including equipment and materials used, and differentiate them from general operational costs. Using cost eligibility requirements helps jurisdictions justify each expenditure and directly relate it to the COVID-19 response and recovery.

Log and Track Time and Expenses

Disaster cost reimbursement requires accurate and detailed records of the time and cost associated with the response actions. Initiating a disaster accounting general ledger is good way to track time and cost.

Compile Cost and Expense Data

To achieve certain thresholds for disaster cost reimbursements, jurisdictions must show proof of cost and impact.

Document Use of Mutual Aid and Volunteer Programs

Jurisdictions must document and track their mutual aid agreements and the cost associated with those response functions.

Continue Documentation Processes

Detailed documentation and accounting requirements should continue throughout response and recovery efforts.

Increase or Adjust Legal Authorities

If applicable, and in consultation with legal counsel, obtain governing body resolution or approval for increased emergency spending authority, contracting or access to a disaster reserve fund.

Manage Positive Cash Flow

Jurisdictions need adequate cash reserves and receivables available that do not exceed expenses.

Coronavirus Relief Fund Guidance for State, Territorial, Local, and Tribal Governments - April 22, 2020 (READ MORE)

What's in the CARES Act? Here's a Summary

What's in the CARES Act? Here's a Summary, courtesy of Peter G. Peterson Foundation

This website  is intended as a national source of information about the coronavirus (COVID-19) and the delivery of  financial recovery services. It includes resources on eligibility, procurement, grant management delivery, and issues related to various Federal Programs currently supporting Covid-19 financial recovery for governments and non-profits. This website is not affiliated or endorsed or sponsored  by  FEMA  or any other Federal grant program. The information provided in various webpage documents is derived largely from Federal  published materials. In general, under section 105 of the Copyright Act, such works are not entitled to domestic copyright protection under U.S. law and are therefore in the public domain.  The goal is to help navigate the various Federal websites and summarize grant information and requirements. It does not constitute legal advice or grant management advise and is provided for general informational purposes only. Only the Federal Agency responsible for grants can make determinations on eligibility and grant amounts. You should consult with your professional services advisors and State and Federal Grant Coordinators for more detailed guidance on specific Covid-19 financial recovery issues.

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