U.S. Treasury sets up new 'recovery office' to oversee relief programs

WASHINGTON, April 14 (Reuters) - The U.S. Treasury Department on Wednesday unveiled a new office to oversee implementation of economic relief programs, including nearly $420 billion in programs under President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID-19 rescue plan.

The new office will report to Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo and will be led by Jacob Leibenluft, a counselor to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, who will work closely with Gene Sperling, the White House rescue plan coordinator.

Consolidating the recovery programs covered under Biden’s American Rescue Plan (ARP) and others enacted under the Trump administration’s CARES Act, will improve efficiency, equity and outreach to grantees, Adeyemo told reporters.

“Many of these programs are new to Treasury and have until now been located in disparate parts of Treasury, and in order to ensure they’re administered effectively and create one point of entry for grantees, we’re establishing an umbrella office, the Office of Recovery Programs,” Adeyemo said.

One of the lessons learned from previous recovery programs was the importance of having outreach to ensure that underserved communities also got access to funding, a Treasury official told reporters. The new office is aimed at making it easier for communities, businesses, and households to access relief.

“Insufficient attention to equity can have real consequences, so ... that’s at the center of everything we’re doing here,” said the official, adding that officials were working to create systems and processes that encouraged the most equitable distribution possible.

Leibenluft said the office would “work around the clock to engage with stakeholders, understand the needs in communities across the country, and swiftly implement relief for those who need it most.”

The new office will oversee programs including the State and Local Fiscal Recovery Fund, Emergency Rental Assistance, the Homeowner Assistance Fund, the State Small Business Credit Initiative, the Capital Projects Fund, the Coronavirus Economic Relief for Transportation Services (CERTS) Program, the Payroll Support Program, the Coronavirus Relief Fund and the Airline and National Security Loan Program.

Reporting by Andrea Shalal; Editing by Andrea Ricci