DES MOINES — Governor Kim Reynolds says she thinks federal pandemic relief money can be used to buy new computer software for state government.
On Monday, State Auditor Rob Sand said the contract to buy the software was signed in 2019, so it’s not directly related to the pandemic. The inspector general in the U.S. Treasury Department agreed. In remarks recorded Wednesday by KGAN in Cedar Rapids, Reynolds indicated she’ll appeal directly to the inspector general.
“We think it’s an allowable expense and so we’re going to talk about why we believe that,” Reynolds said, “so we’ll send that to them and ask them to respectfully review the allowance.”
The inspector general has said in a letter that spending $21 million on computer upgrades for state government was planned before the pandemic and is not necessary to address the public health emergency. Reynolds said her response to the inspector general will be sent later this week.
“Almost every single governor across this country has actually asked their congressional delegation as well as the administration for more flexibility with the dollars and that’s across the board,” Reynolds said. “Because it’s just ever evolving and our response to it — it’s not going to go away in December — we have to think about how we manage this moving forward.”
Governor Reynolds’ staff has argued federal aid should be used for the project because state workers will use the upgraded computer system for COVID-related requests, like time off to care for a family member who has Covid or to donate sick leave to other employees who have the virus.
“We’re going to reach out and talk about why we think it was an appropriate expense,” Reynolds told reporters Wednesday.
The State of Iowa received $1.2 billion from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security or CARES Act. The money must be spent by the end of the year. Reynolds said if the inspector general tells her the $21 million cannot be spent on computer software, she’ll reallocate the money rather than be forced to reimburse the federal government.
State Auditor Rob Sand says the governor’s decision to use 21-million dollars on computer software that will be installed next year is not directly related to the pandemic and an inspector general in the Treasury Department agrees.