Monday, August 23, 2010

Government Accountability Office Watches Recovery Act Implementation

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has monitored the implementation of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA)and issued several reports. Some of the issues raised by the GAO are summarized below.

Jobs Reporting
ARRA requires assistance recipients to report on jobs created and retained by their projects. GAO found that there were inconsistencies in guidance and the calculation of full time equivalents (FTEs) that might affect the reported figures and the aggregation of jobs. They believed that recipients were making a good faith effort to report correctly.

Federal Requirements Effect Project Timing, Selection, Starts
GAO found that federal agencies and states reported that federal requirements related to ARRA affected the timing, selection, and starts of projects. The requirements that seemed to have the most effect were Davis-Bacon and Buy American.

The Davis-Bacon Act requires contractors on federal projects to pay local prevailing wages to laborers and mechanics. Generally, it applies to direct contracts with the federal government. It applies to all projects that are funded with ARRA funds. Timing of some projects was effected by this requirement. It seems likely that this is because these requirements are new to 40 programs because of the attachment of the requirement to ARRA funds.

The ARRA Buy American requirements are new to all the affected programs. The selection and start of some projects were effected by this requirement.

Though some projects were affected by federal requirements, it appears they have caused few significant problems for overall program implementation. Only a few agencies surveyed by GAO reported major problems.

The information for this post was draw from these GAO reports:
Officials’ Views Vary on Impacts of Davis-Bacon Act Prevailing Wage Provision (
Project Selection and Starts Are Influenced by Certain Federal Requirements and Other Factors (GAO-10-383)
Recipient Reported Jobs Data Provide Some Insight into Use of Recovery Act Funding, but Data Quality and Reporting Issues Need Attention (GAO-10-223)

GAO has also issued these reports on ARRA:
One Year Later, States’ and Localities’ Uses of Funds and Opportunities to Strengthen Accountability (GAO-10-437)
California’s Use of Funds and Efforts to Ensure Accountability (GAO-10-467T)
Clean Water Projects Are Underway, but Procedures May Not Be in Place to Ensure Adequate Oversight (GAO-10-761T)
Contracting Approaches and Oversight Used by Selected Federal Agencies and States (GAO-10-809)
Factors Affecting the Department of Energy's Program Implementation (GAO-10-497T)
Increasing the Public’s Understanding of What Funds Are Being Spent on and What Outcomes Are Expected (GAO-10-581)
Recipient Reported Jobs Data Provide Some Insight into Use of Recovery Act Funding, but Data Quality and Reporting Issues Need Attention (GAO-10-224T)
States’ and Localities’ Uses of Funds and Actions Needed to Address Implementation Challenges and Bolster Accountability (GAO-10-604)
States’ Use of Highway and Transit Funds and Efforts to Meet the Act’s Requirements (GAO-10-312T)

Check out these posts and articles for additional information on ARRA:
Infrastructure & Stimulus News
Recovery Act and Infrastructure in the News
Recovery Act and Infrastructure News
Show Me the Money: Stimulus & Infrastructure News
States Obligate All Highway Stimulus Funds
What’s Up in Congress

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