Showing the money
In exchange for a share of the $787 billion allocated under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), states and local governments will be responsible for what President Barack Obama’s administration intends to be an unprecedented level of transparency.
ARRA grantees are required to submit quarterly reports to the granting agency detailing the amount received; a list of the funded projects, including the completion status and estimated number of jobs created and retained; and information on any subgrants or subcontracts made. The first round of reports will be due on July 15.
At least 48 states have established or proposed methods for informing residents about how the money will be spent, according to the Washington-based National Conference of State Legislatures. Some departments, such as the Iowa Department of Transportation, are setting up their own Web sites or pages.
The administration still is working out some of the reporting requirements, says Valerie Brown, president-elect of the Washington-based National Association of Counties (NACo), including the level of detail expected and whether local governments will be responsible for reporting if the funding is filtered through the state. Some leaders are concerned that the requirements will mean even more work for small, already overworked staffs. “But, [Vice President Joe] Biden was passionate about if we had problems, they would fix it,” Brown says.
Some of the requirements, however, are familiar to local officials, says Carolyn Coleman, federal relations director for Washington-based National League of Cities. “Scarce resources having to be allocated is a tradition at the local level,” she says. “The nature of public meetings and transparency is nothing new.”
A map with links to each state’s recovery Web site is available at www.recovery.gov.
Jennifer Grzeskowiak is a Laguna Beach, Calif.-based freelance writer.