District of Columbia – May 26, 2010

The content below was excerpted from the District of Columbia Appendix (PDF, 26 pages) of GAO's most recent bimonthly review of the Recovery Act.[1]

What We Did

GAO's work in the District focused on specific programs funded under the Recovery Act, as well as general issues involving the effect of Recovery Act funds on the District's budget. The programs we reviewed—three Recovery Act programs funded by the U.S. Department of Education (Education) and the Weatherization Assistance Program funded by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)—were selected primarily because they include existing programs receiving significant amounts of Recovery Act funds or programs receiving significant increases in funding from the Recovery Act. We also reviewed the District's use of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) Hiring Recovery Program (CHRP) grant funds, which is a U.S. Department of Justice competitive grant program that provides funding directly to law enforcement agencies to create and preserve jobs and to support community policing and crime-prevention efforts. For descriptions and requirements of the programs we covered, see appendix XVIII of GAO-10-605SP. Our work focused on how the funds were being used and monitored, how safeguards were being implemented, and issues that were specific to each program. In addition to our program-specific reviews, we also updated information on the District's fiscal situation and how Recovery Act funds are being used for budget stabilization. Finally, to gain an understanding of the District's efforts to oversee and monitor the use of Recovery Act funds, we talked to the District's Office of the Inspector General (DC OIG) about its oversight role and audits related to Recovery Act funds.

What We FoundBack to top

Title I, Part A, of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, as amended (ESEA)

Education allocated $37.6 million in ESEA Title I Recovery Act funds to the District to help improve teaching, learning, and academic achievement for disadvantaged students. Most of the District's local educational agencies (LEA)[2] plan to use these funds for salaries and benefits and contracted professional services designed to support student instruction. As of April 16, 2010, the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) had disbursed about $1.5 million of these funds. For example, one LEA used these funds for the salary and benefits of an instructional coach to enhance the professional development and training of teachers.

U.S. Department of Education State Fiscal Stabilization Fund

Education awarded the District about $65.3 million of the District's total State Fiscal Stabilization Fund (SFSF) allocation of about $89.3 million. These SFSF funds are intended, in part, to help the District stabilize its budget by minimizing budgetary cuts in education and other essential government services. Of the SFSF funds, 81.8 percent are designated as education stabilization funds and intended to support public elementary, secondary, and higher education, and, as applicable, early childhood education programs and services. The remaining 18.2 percent of SFSF funds are designated as government services funds, intended to provide additional resources to support education, public safety, and other government services. District LEAs plan to use SFSF funds primarily on salaries and benefits for teachers. As of April 16, 2010, LEAs reported expending over $16.4 million in SFSF education stabilization funds and $1.1 million in SFSF government services funds. For example, one LEA used a portion of the SFSF education stabilization funds for the salaries and benefits of music, art, and advanced placement teachers and guidance counselors.

Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, as amended, (IDEA) Part B

Education allocated $16.7 million in IDEA Part B Recovery Act funds to the District to support special education and related services for children with disabilities. As of April 16, 2010, District LEAs reported expending about $1.6 million in IDEA Part B Recovery Act funds.

Weatherization Assistance Program

DOE allocated about $8 million in Recovery Act weatherization funds to the District for a 3-year period. The District Department of the Environment (DDOE), which is responsible for administering the program for the District, did not begin to spend its operational weatherization funding until February 2010, making the District among the last recipients to begin spending its weatherization funding under the Recovery Act. According to DDOE officials, they have been developing the capacity and infrastructure to administer the program, such as hiring new staff, but there have been delays in this process. According to DDOE, as of March 31, 2010, it has completed weatherization for 110 units, or about 14 percent of its goal.

COPS Hiring Recovery Program

In July 2009, the U.S. Department of Justice awarded about $12 million in Recovery Act funding to the Washington, D.C., Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) to create and preserve jobs and to support community policing and crime-prevention efforts. MPD is using the grant for 50 new police officer positions and to fund these positions for 3 years. MPD expects the new officers will graduate from the Metropolitan Police Academy in August 2010, and will have an immediate effect in the community by increasing the number of officers on patrol.

The District's fiscal situation

Since our February 2010 report, competitive Recovery Act grants have helped the District further expand its health care and housing programs. According to District officials, within the last quarter, the District has been awarded a total of about $21 million in competitive Recovery Act grants. While the infusion of Recovery Act funds has helped mitigate the negative effects of the recession on the District's budget, the District continues to face fiscal challenges. As a result of deteriorating economic conditions and a decrease in expected revenues, on April 1, 2010, the District's Mayor reported that the District was facing a projected $230 million budget shortfall in fiscal year 2010. Additionally, the Mayor's proposed fiscal year 2011 budget identified a $523 million budget gap as a result of the decline in revenues in fiscal year 2011, slow economic recovery, and the end of Recovery Act funding.

Accountability efforts

As of April 21, 2010, the DC OIG has initiated one audit specifically related to the use of Recovery Act funds involving construction contracts at the District Department of Transportation that were awarded under the Recovery Act. Other planned Recovery Act audits have not yet begun because of lack of resources.

Full May ReportBack to top

Recovery Act: States' and Localities' Uses of Funds and Actions Needed to Address Implementation Challenges and Bolster Accountability
Recovery Act: States' and Localities' Uses of Funds and Actions Needed to Address Implementation Challenges and Bolster Accountability
  • [1] Pub. L. No. 111-5, 123 Stat. 115 (Feb. 17, 2009).
  • [2] The District has 58 LEAs, including 57 charter school LEAs and the District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS). Fifty-one LEAs are eligible to receive ESEA Title I Recovery Act funds, according to the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE). Most of the charter school LEAs consist of a single campus, but some have multiple campuses or schools. DCPS comprises 129 schools.
GAO Contact
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William O. Jenkins

Director, Homeland Security and Justice


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