September 2010 — GAO´s Comments on Fourth Round of Recipient Reporting

What GAO Found

Many Recipients Are Citing Greater Ease Meeting Recovery Act Reporting Requirements, but Some Recipients Continue to Face Difficulties Calculating Jobs

According to Recovery.gov, as of August 24, 2010, recipients reported on close to 200,000 awards indicating that the Recovery Act funded approximately 750,000 jobs during the quarter beginning April 1, 2010, and ending June 30, 2010[1]. As reported by the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board (the Board), the job calculations are based on the number of hours worked in a quarter and funded under the Recovery Act and expressed in FTEs. Officials from many states reported that the recipient reporting process was, by this fourth round, becoming routine. Given that no new reporting guidance was issued by OMB during the quarter and that a time extension was again granted by the Board, recipients indicated they had few problems reporting. The FTE calculations, however, continue to be difficult for some recipients as evidenced by our field work in selected jurisdictions covering two energy programs.

Under the Recovery Act, recipients are to file reports for any quarter in which they receive Recovery Act funds directly from the federal government. Reporting requirements apply to nonfederal recipients of funding, including entities such as state and local governments, educational institutions, nonprofits, and other private organizations. These requirements apply to recipients who receive funding through the Recovery Act's discretionary appropriations, not recipients receiving funds through entitlement programs, such as Medicaid, or tax provisions. Certain other exceptions apply, such as for individuals. Under the Recovery Act, recipients are required to submit reports no later than 10 days after the end of each calendar quarter. The Board extended the reporting deadline by several days for all four rounds of reporting.

What GAO DidBack to top

The recipient reporting section of this report responds to the Recovery Act's mandate that GAO comment on the estimates of jobs created or retained by direct recipients of Recovery Act funds. For GAO's review of the fourth submission of recipient reports, covering the period from April 1, 2010, through June 30, 2010, GAO built on findings from three prior reviews of the reports, covering the period from February 2009 through March 30, 2010. GAO performed edit checks and basic analyses on the fourth submission of recipient report data that became publicly available at Recovery.gov on July 30, 2010. GAO interviewed federal agency officials from the Department of Energy, who have responsibility for ensuring a reasonable degree of quality across their programs' recipient reports. GAO also interviewed representatives from a variety of state associations, such as the National Association of State Auditors, Comptrollers, and Treasurers and the National Association of State Budget Officers, to obtain their views on whether the process of recipient reporting has had an effect on intergovernmental interactions.

From the fourth submission of recipient reports, GAO reviewed reports for two energy programs, EECBG and the Weatherization Assistance Program, to determine whether they had used Office of Management and Budget (OMB) guidance for calculating their full-time equivalents (FTE) funded by the Recovery Act. GAO interviewed 13 EECBG state-level and 19 local government recipients from 17 selected jurisdictions about their FTE calculations for the fourth round of reporting. GAO also interviewed 8 state-level weatherization assistance recipients and 17 local government weatherization assistance subrecipients from the 17 selected jurisdictions about their FTE calculations. In some instances, GAO reviewed supporting documentation with quarterly FTE reports, and assessed the validity of those calculations in complying with OMB guidance. Due to the limited number of recipients reviewed and the judgmental nature of the selection, GAO's FTE findings are not generalizable beyond the programs examined. In addition, state teams also interviewed government officials from the 16 selected states and the District to discuss issues that arose in the fourth reporting period statewide, specifically related to any difficulties they encountered during the fourth round of reporting, development of their state Web sites, and their views on whether the recipient reporting requirements have affected intergovernmental interactions. GAO also asked these officials about ongoing state plans for managing, tracking, and reporting on Recovery Act funding and activities and solicited feedback from state officials regarding how states are using data generated from the recipient reporting effort and ways the recipient reporting process could be improved.

For GAO's complete comments on the fourth round of recipient reporting see pages 143-158 of the September 20, 2010 report, Opportunities to Improve Management and Strengthen Accountability over States' and Localities' Uses of Funds.

  • [1] Under the continuous corrections period, recipients were able to modify this round of submissions from August 3, 2010, through September 20, 2010. The final update of this round of recipient reported data should occur on September 22, 2010.
Full Reports

September 20, 2010

Recovery Act: Opportunities to Improve Management and Strengthen Accountability over States' and Localities' Uses of Funds
GAO-10-999