Florida – July 8, 2009

The content below was excerpted from the Florida Appendix (PDF, 56 pages) of GAO's second bimonthly review of the Recovery Act.[1]

Contents

Use of Funds

GAO’s work focused on nine federal programs, selected primarily because they have begun disbursing funds to states, and includes existing programs receiving significant amounts of Recovery Act funds or significant increases in funding, and new programs. Program funds are being directed to helping Florida stabilize its budget and support local governments, particularly school districts, and are being used to expand existing programs. Funds from some of these programs are intended for disbursement through states or directly to localities. The funds include the following:

Funds Made Available as a Result of Increased Medicaid Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (FMAP)

As of June 29, 2009, Florida has drawn down almost $1.3 billion in increased FMAP grant awards, which is almost 91 percent of its awards to date.[2] Florida is using freed up state funds made available as a result of the increased FMAP to cover the state’s increased Medicaid caseload, and maintain current Medicaid populations, and level of benefits and offset the state budget deficit.[3]

U.S. Department of Education State Fiscal Stabilization Fund (SFSF)

Florida’s request for stabilization funds was approved on May 12, 2009, and the state received $1.8 billion of its total SFSF allocation of $2.7 billion. Almost $1.5 billion is for education stabilization, and $329 million is for government services. Based on Florida’s approved application, it will allocate 79 percent of the education stabilization funds to local education agencies (LEA) and 21 percent to institutions of higher education (IHE). Florida will make the funds available to LEAs and IHEs on July 1, 2009, the beginning of the school budgeting year. Florida will be using these funds to restore state aid to LEAs, helping to stabilize their budgets and, among other uses, retain staff. For example, Miami-Dade school district officials estimate that the Recovery Act funds will allow them to save 1,919 positions or 10 percent of the district’s teacher workforce.

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

The Department of Education (Education) has awarded Florida $245 million in Recovery Act ESEA Title I, Part A, funds, or 50 percent of its total allocation of $490 million. Of these funds, the state has allocated state LEAs $231 million, as of June 25, 2009. Florida made these funds available to LEAs after April 1, 2009, to help them educate disadvantaged youth. For example, Miami-Dade school district officials reported that they are using the Recovery Act funds to deploy reading coaches to high-poverty, low-performing schools, and to provide supplemental, enrichment services to students enrolled in prekindergarten in schools implementing the Title I School-wide Program.

Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), Parts B and C

Education has awarded $335 million in Recovery Act IDEA, Parts B and C, funds, or 50 percent of its total allocation of $670 million. Florida has received $9.8 million of Part B funds for preschool grants and $313.6 million of Part B funds for school-aged children and youth. Florida made these funds available to LEAs upon receipt of an approved application, to support special education and related services for infants, toddlers, children, and youth with disabilities. The Florida Department of Health received $11.5 million of Part C funds for infants and families for early intervention services, and it has allocated $7 million of the funds across 15 contracts to local organizations for service delivery for its Early Steps Program, as of July 1, 2009.

Workforce Investment Act Youth Program

The U.S. Department of Labor allotted about  $43 million of Recovery Act funds for the WIA Youth program. The state has allocated all of the funds to local workforce boards, based on information available on June 30, 2009. The Florida workforce boards’ summer youth programs plan to create about 16,000 to 20,000 summer jobs for Florida youth.

Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grants

The Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance has awarded $81.5 million directly to Florida in Recovery Act funding, of which about 65 percent—about $53 million—is to be allocated by the state to eligible local jurisdictions.[4] As of June 30, 2009, the state has obligated and expended $8,300 for administrative expenses. Grant funds coming to the state of Florida will be used mostly to expand existing drug court programs. The remaining funds will be used for providing detention and treatment services for youth, purchasing radio equipment upgrades for the Department of Corrections, and developing a new seaport access database.

Public Housing Capital Fund

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has allocated about $86 million in Recovery Act funding to 82 public housing agencies in Florida. Based on information available as of June 20, 2009, about $12 million (14 percent) had been obligated by 35 of those agencies. At the three housing agencies we visited—Venice Housing Authority, Tampa Housing Authority, Tallahassee Housing Authority—these funds, which flow directly to public housing agencies, are being used for various capital improvements, including modifying kitchens, replacing roofs and windows, and improving energy efficiency.

Weatherization Assistance Program

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) allocated about $176 million in Recovery Act weatherization funding to Florida for a 3-year period. As of June 30, 2009, DOE has provided about $88 million to Florida, and the Department of Community Affairs (DCA) will have obligated almost $113,000 and expended about $77,000 of the initial program funds for such expenses as payroll for DCA staff, contract services, and travel and supplies. Florida also plans on using its initial funding to hire additional staff to monitor the program, prepare subgrantee agreements with its 29 local service providers, and provide start-up training for new agency staff and subgrantees. The additional 40 percent of the Recovery Act weatherization funds received on June 18, 2009, will be used to begin weatherizing at least 19,000 homes.

Highway Infrastructure Investment Funds

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) apportioned $1.4 billion in Recovery Act funds to Florida. As of June 25, 2009, the federal government obligated about $1 billion. According to Florida Department of Transportation officials, the state has received bids for nine highway construction projects, and is currently advertising 39 additional Recovery Act projects—funded with $555 million in Recovery Act funds and $945 million in other federal, state, and local funds. Funding from the first round of FHWA obligations are being used for resurfacing projects, bridge repairs, and new construction. For example, in Hillsborough County, a major interstate project—costing over $445 million and using over $105 million in Recovery Act funds—will connect a major expressway to Florida’s Interstate 4 to improve the flow of traffic and create a truck-only lane to provide direct access to the Port of Tampa.

Safeguarding & TransparencyBack to top

Florida’s accounting system will be used to separately track Recovery Act funds that flow through the state government, using selected identifiers such as a grant number or project number. The local entities that we visited have tracking systems in place, or are in the process of establishing tracking systems for Recovery Act funds, whether those funds are passed-through from the state agency or are directly awarded from a federal agency. While Florida law requires state agencies to establish and maintain internal controls, the state oversight agencies are preparing for the infusion of Recovery Act funds into the state. The Florida Department of Financial Services is planning to obtain separate agency representation letters from agency heads that say internal controls are in place for Recovery Act funds. Florida’s Chief Inspector General established a communitywide working group of agency Inspectors General to address risk assessment, fraud prevention and awareness, and training. The Auditor General is monitoring the state’s plans for accounting for and expending Recovery Act funds and tracking the expected changes in the Office of Management and Budget’s (OMB) implementing guidance for the Single Audit Act’s requirements.

Assessing the Effects of SpendingBack to top

Florida agencies continue to have some concerns about the lack of clear federal guidance on assessing the results of Recovery Act spending and were awaiting final OMB and federal agency guidance on reporting on jobs retained and created. The recovery czar reported participating in conference calls with OMB regarding the guidance and having input into its development. On June 22, 2009, OMB issued additional guidance on reporting on the use of Recovery Act funds.[5] Florida is in the process of developing an automated Web-based system to collect data and report on Recovery Act requirements for funds that flow through state agencies. In addition, since most state agencies have yet to obligate or expend Recovery Act funds, little, if, any data on actual jobs retained or created is available for Florida. Instead, some state agencies have estimated the number of jobs retained or created. For example, officials from one university stated that the Recovery Act stabilization funds would be used exclusively to retain about 400 of their 1,100 adjunct instructors.

Full July ReportBack to top

Recovery Act: States' and Localities' Current and Planned Uses of Funds While Facing Fiscal Stresses
GAO-09-829
Recovery Act: States' and Localities' Current and Planned Uses of Funds While Facing Fiscal Stresses (Appendixes)
GAO-09-830SP
  • [1] Pub. L. No. 111-5, 123 Stat. 115 (Feb. 17, 2009).
  • [2] Florida received increased FMAP grant awards of about $1.4 billion for the first three quarters of federal fiscal year 2009.
  • [3] The increased FMAP available under the Recovery Act is for state expenditures for Medicaid services. However, the receipt of this increased FMAP may reduce the funds that states would otherwise have to use for their Medicaid programs, and states have reported using these available funds for a variety of purposes.
  • [4] We did not review Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grants awarded directly to local governments in this report because the Bureau of Justice Assistance’s (BJA) solicitation for local governments closed on June 17; therefore, not all of these funds have been awarded.
  • [5] OMB M-09-21, Implementing Guidance for the Reports on Use of Funds Pursuant to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (June 22, 2009).
GAO Contact
portrait of of Andrew Sherrill

Andrew Sherrill

Director, Education, Workforce, and Income Security

sherrilla@gao.gov

(202) 512-7252