American Rescue Plan National Evaluation

Pregnant patient and doctor wearing masks

In March 2021, President Biden signed the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARP), providing funding for over 200 programs and services to address the COVID-19 pandemic’s public health, economic, and broader societal effects. ARP’s wide range of funding, policy interventions, and services each target specific outcomes. These ARP components are also intended to be equitably designed and implemented, with the goal of addressing the pandemic’s disproportionate negative impacts on vulnerable individuals, families, and communities (see, e.g., Executive Order 13985, OMB M-21-20, and OMB M-21-24).

In addition to establishing ARP in 2021, President Biden issued the Restoring Trust in Government Through Scientific Integrity and Evidence-Based Policymaking memorandum, committing his administration to making evidence-based decisions using the best available data and science (The White House, 2021). The combination of the ARP Act—specifically designed to serve vulnerable individuals, families, and communities—and this mandate promoting evidence-based policymaking creates a unique opportunity to examine the types of government actions that work to build an equitable recovery. And the substantial variation in design and implementation of ARP-funded programs allows for an examination of how various program strategies and approaches have contributed to equitable outcomes.

AIR was contracted by the General Services Administration (GSA) to conduct a national evaluation of ARP. The evaluation design is informed by the recently released ARP Equity Report and associated Learning Agenda and will provide timely information about implementation, effectiveness, and equity of selected ARP programs across various governmental agencies. Specifically, findings from this project will:

  • Describe ARP program implementation and establish a process for ongoing program monitoring and analysis;
  • Estimate program effectiveness in advancing equitable outcomes;
  • Describe the collective impact and secondary effects from multiple programs;
  • Conduct program-specific analyses to address high-priority evidence gaps; and
  • Develop products that support stakeholder engagement to build evidence about advancing equity and shared learning.