Strategic Funds Allocation – Thinking Outside the “Circle” for US City Managers

In the wake of the global pandemic, many new challenges and obstacles have required creative solutions and strategic funds allocation. It’s little wonder that the recent buzzword has been “unprecedented.” As part of those solutions, state and local governments have had access to unprecedented fund distributions to address the impacts of the pandemic and invest in their communities.

However, when faced with unexpected access to funds, many city and county managers are unprepared to allocate them – perhaps finding it challenging to utilize their current systems to identify areas where the easy money could best be spent.

Across 20 major American cities examined in April this year, only 18.1% of the $7.1 billion available through fiscal recovery schemes had been allocated by the local governance. From that amount, almost 60% of the funds were to be spent on lost revenue and the homeless/unemployed sectors. These strategies seem primarily based on risk avoidance. While necessary, this lack of strategy in strategic funds allocation has no longevity in the recovery.


Too many City Managers are playing it safe when spending the money distributed through the CARES Act 2020 and the more recent ARP funding across the USA. There appears to be little relationship between current spending and long-term strategic goals to make the most of the fiscal relief funds allocation.

Strategic and operational planning could utilize the current unexpected influx of funds to achieve long-running benefits for the area – a lack of foresight and planning results in short-sighted fixes without actual long-term advantages.
Whether the funds are allocated for infrastructure or general spending, if there are no plans to budget for it in the future, it may become a white elephant that goes unfunded after the first or second year.

While the Delta strain provided yet another potential economic setback, financial analysts predict that it is unlikely to rival the massive impact created by the first wave of the pandemic. That leaves local governments with the opportunity to not only recover from the lost revenue of the year past but to be future-minded with their strategic funds’ allocation to achieve tangible results that last. That’s why clear strategic goals and effective operational planning are vital for effective fiscal spending. create frameworks that organize and drive otherwise ambiguous goals, creating a single database that allows for efficiency and effectiveness in day-to-day operations while allowing governments to allocate and channel unexpected funding in a way that will align and support their long-term goals.

With a framework in place, it becomes easy to see how those funds could be used to benefit the community’s overall needs and achieve the goals of the governing body. In addition, it then becomes simple to implement, track, measure, and report on the success of their strategic community plan. framework design, software tools, and consultant training and support services can ensure that strategic plans are tangible, are defined, and aligned, leading to greater focus and output on core strategies.

With such an unprecedented investment in cities, counties, and tribes, the statistics reveal a lack of creative commitments to spending the available funds.
It highlights a lamentable absence of solid strategic funds allocation and planning that can quickly and efficiently channel additional funds in a way that supports current and future goals.

There is a real opportunity to get it right and harness the funding for the long-term benefit of the community, and it’s worth it for the sake of the city’s constituents.

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Cheriece Johnson

Taking the leap. Average to extraordinary.

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