Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Recovery Act Review

Economic Impacts of ARRA 

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) reports quarterly on the estimated economic impact of the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act of 2009 (ARRA).  In its report for the third quarter of 2012, it estimated that ARRA funded more than 135, 000 jobs (full-time equivalents, or FTEs).  It expects 90 percent of ARRA’s budget impacts will be realized by the end of the year.  It projects that ARRA will increase they budget deficit by $833 billion by 2019, up from its original estimate of $787 billion.

Cleanup Projects

 The Department of Energy (DOE) received $6 billion from ARRA for the cleanup of DOE-managed sites that produced nuclear material.  According to a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report, ARRA-funded jobs peaked in the fourth quarter of 2010 at about 11,000 FTEs.  They reduced the footprint of managed sites by 70 percent; that is they cleaned up more than 650 square miles.

Beginning with ARRA, DOE implemented a project management approach that broke down projects into more manageable pieces.  GAO found that this practice may have allowed the agency to classify projects in a way that may have allowed them to avoid certain review processes.  In addition, inconsistencies in developing project scope, schedules and targets, along with variability in documentation, makes it difficult to accurately assess and compare project and program performance.

State and Local Management of ARRA

State and local governments had significant responsibilities in managing ARRA funds as recipients.  GAO reported findings related to their review of state and local management.  Some of those findings include:

-The emphasis on obligating ARRA funds resulted in delayed obligation of other funds.
-Recipient expertise effected the management of ARRA funds.  Particularly, state agencies tended to have more success in managing their ARRA projects that local agencies because of greater familiarity with federal requirements.
-Unclear guidance caused problems for various projects.
-Internal controls of some recipients were not adequate, at least at the start, for monitoring compliance with ARRA requirements.

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