Recovery Act Accountability Round-up

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ARRA logoSince Labor Day there has been a spate of new reports and other materials on Recovery Act issues. Here’s a round-up of these new items, which are being added to the resources pages of the website for States for a Transparent and Accountable Recovery (STAR Coalition).

  • OMB Watch, our partner in both the STAR Coalition and the Coalition for an Accountable Recovery, issued Recovery Act Transparency: Implementation and Current Issues. The paper notes that the Obama Administration is creating a disclosure system for ARRA spending that could be a model for federal expenditures of all kinds, but it finds that, as of today, the effort has “a long way to go.” OMB Watch expresses particular frustration at the inconsistency of data being reported on Recovery.gov and on USASpending.gov. Among the other deficiencies cited is the absence of plans for reporting on the quality of jobs created by ARRA spending and the uncertainty about how much data on spending impacts (including equity measures) will be collected and reported.
  • The Council of Economic Advisers issued its first quarterly report on the economic impact of ARRA. It estimates that, as of the end of August, $151.4 billion of the total $787 billion in the Act had been outlaid or gone to taxpayers and businesses in the form of tax reductions. It calculated that, as a result, there are about 1 million more people working than would have been the case without the stimulus. A table on page 19 of the report breaks that number down by sector (professional and business services has the most) and a table on page 22 gives estimates by states (California is first with 139,700).
  • The Government Accountability Office released an ARRA report in the form of testimony before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. It focused on stimulus spending flowing through state and local governments. GAO found that, as of late August, the U.S. Treasury Department had outlayed about $45 billion of the estimated $49 billion projected for use in states and localities in the current fiscal year. The largest amounts are in the form of increased Medicaid FMAP funding and the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund.  GAO repeated its recommendation that states be given additional flexibility and funding to carry out their audit responsibilities under ARRA.
  • Also new is a database of applications for the discretionary grants available for promoting rural broadband.

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