Florida – May 26, 2010

The content below was excerpted from the Florida Appendix (PDF, 31 pages) of GAO's most recent bimonthly review of the Recovery Act.[1]

What We Did

Our work in Florida focused on specific programs funded under the Recovery Act. From January to May 2010, we collected relevant data to understand how they were using funds (see table 1). Our review focused exclusively on these entities and our results cannot be generalized to Florida or nationwide. For descriptions and requirements of the programs we covered, see appendix XVIII of GAO-10-605SP.

Workforce Investment Act of 1998 (WIA) Dislocated Worker Program

  • We conducted interviews with officials of the Florida Agency for Workforce Innovation (FAWI) on state and workforce boards' implementation of program and reporting of obligations to the U.S. Department of Labor (Labor).
  • We gathered data from each of the eight local workforce boards and visited two (Region 20, Workforce Solutions; and Region 23, South Florida Workforce Investment Board). The eight boards were selected based on increases in unemployment rates as compared to all Florida counties. The eight boards collectively received 45 percent of the total Recovery Act WIA allotment to state.

Weatherization Assistance Program

  • At the Florida Department of Community Affairs (DCA), which administers the program, we discussed management controls in place.
  • We selected three subgrantees based on the size of the respective programs and geographic dispersion: Suwannee River Economic Council, Inc., Pinellas County Urban League, and Indiantown Non-Profit Housing, Inc. At three subgrantees, we selected 36 weatherization cases either randomly or judgmentally based on geographic dispersion within the subgrantees' service areas to review for documentation supporting compliance with DCA requirements, such as income eligibility; however, we did not independently verify clients' income.
  • We also visited 29 weatherized homes to determine that the work paid for was completed and of acceptable quality. A licensed engineer on our staff participated in inspections of these homes to assess work quality, and we received technical assistance from a consulting engineering firm on issues involving heating, ventilation, and air conditioning equipment.
  • We also visited the University of Central Florida, Solar Energy Center, which is training local weatherization inspectors, and interviewed center officials.

Public Housing Capital Fund Program (formula grant)

  • We interviewed officials at the Jacksonville and Miami Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) field offices about the pace of obligations and HUD's oversight and technical assistance.
  • We selected four public housing agencies—two of which obligated less than 50 percent of their Recovery Act Capital Fund formula grants as of mid-February 2010 (Pasco County and city of Lakeland) and two of which had obligated more than 50 percent as of the same date (cities of Orlando and Sarasota). At these public housing agencies, we inquired about challenges in obligating funds, reporting, and HUD's oversight and technical assistance at four selected agencies. We also interviewed officials at agencies about internal controls and collected relevant documents; at the Orlando Housing Authority, we performed limited testing of internal controls over certain financial transactions and their compliance with requirements of the Recovery Act Capital Fund formula grant. We did not independently determine whether the goods/services paid for were received and met various requirements, such as Buy American.

Clean Water and Drinking Water State Revolving Funds

  • We interviewed state officials on Florida's method of awarding these Recovery Act funds and its approach to ensure accountability.
  • We selected one Drinking Water project in city of North Miami Beach and one Clean Water project in city of Stuart. We did no testing of controls, such as Buy American, or whether goods/services paid for were received.

State and local budgets

  • We interviewed state officials on state's use of Recovery Act funds and reviewed budget documentation.
  • We selected one city, Orlando (population 230,519), and its county, Orange County (population 1,086,480), because both have high unemployment rates—11.5 percent and 12 percent for Orlando and Orange County, respectively, as of March 2010—and are among the areas experiencing the highest foreclosure rates relative to the state average. We Interviewed city of Orlando and Orange County officials on use and amount of Recovery Act funds received, and strategies for addressing challenges when Recovery Act funds are no longer available, and reviewed localities' budget documents.

Transparency and accountability (recipient reporting, and Single Audit Project)

  • We assessed the involvement of Florida officials participating in the federal Office of Management and Budget's (OMB) Single Audit Pilot Project by reviewing audit findings, recommendations, and corrective actions taken as a result of the project.
  • We discussed recipient reporting as well as audit work planned or completed with the Florida Recovery Czar, inspectors generals, and Florida Auditor General.
  • We interviewed officials and reviewed documentation at a local education agency, an institution of higher education, and a public housing agency in Florida regarding job calculations for the second and third rounds of recipient job reporting.

What We FoundBack to top

We reviewed the implementation of several Recovery Act programs in Florida and found that state agencies and other grant recipients are generally meeting statutory deadlines or goals for obligating Recovery Act funds, meaning that recipients have contracts in place to begin work or provide services. However, several recipients we visited said they faced implementation challenges, such as understanding new requirements under tight time frames for obligating funds. Moreover, in a few of the programs reviewed, we identified several compliance challenges and control gaps that state officials committed to address.

Dislocated Worker Recovery Act Funds

The state agency administering the WIA program has data on local workforce boards' expenditures of their entire WIA allocation (Youth, Adult, and Dislocated Worker), but state officials reported not having data on local boards' obligation of funds. Half of the eight local boards we contacted regarding their dislocated worker allocation—to be used for employment and training activities to assist workers dislocated by layoffs or terminations—reported obligating or spending their entire allocation of funds by January 31, 2010. All eight boards reported using Dislocated Worker funds to place additional people in employment-related training; taking steps to address demand for services; having data-collection and reporting procedures that accounted for Recovery Act funds; and using site visits to monitor performance of those receiving funds. In doing our work, we learned that the state agency overseeing Florida's workforce system has been reporting obligations data to the U.S. Department of Labor (Labor) that do not satisfy Labor's definition for obligations. The state agreed to change the way data are reported.

Weatherization Assistance Program

Florida has established a variety of management controls for weatherizing residences using Recovery Act funds and has significantly increased the pace of home weatherizations between September 2009 and March 2010 to a total of 1,987 single family homes as of March 31, 2010, according to data received from the state. We found several gaps in the controls, resulting in problems undetected by program personnel or noncompliance. At the three subgrantees we reviewed, we found some instances of work done that was of unacceptable quality or inconsistent with planned work, or work charged but not done, and potential health or safety issues that were not addressed. In addition, we raised with state officials that stronger guidance and oversight by the state Department of Community Affairs (DCA), which administers the program, could help to ensure that subgrantees use local market rate information to obtain fair and reasonable prices for goods and services, as required for spending Recovery Act funds. DCA and subgrantees agreed to act on our suggestions to address the problems we identified.

Public Housing Recovery Act Capital Fund Formula grants

According to HUD, public housing agencies in Florida receiving Recovery Act Capital Fund formula grants met the March 17, 2010 deadline for obligating these funds. In our review of internal control documentation at four selected public housing agencies, we found each had internal control policies for procurement and for Recovery Act-required information.

Drinking Water and Clean Water and State Revolving Funds

Florida officials told us all Recovery Act-funded projects were under contract by the February 17, 2010 deadline. However, state officials said they faced challenges in processing the high volume of drinking water and clean water project requests while some local subrecipients had to take additional steps to meet state contracting requirements and Recovery Act requirements for U.S.-made construction materials.

State and Local Budgets

Florida officials project a slight improvement in the state's fiscal condition; however, they expect the economy may take a long time to recover fully. Officials said that Recovery Act funds have not eliminated, but have limited, the need to use reserves to balance the state's general fund budget. Officials in Orlando and Orange County said Recovery Act funds have been used mainly for short-term strategies to provide services to communities, with funds contributing a small amount to their budgets.

Transparency and accountability

Florida's Recovery Czar expressed concern that the total Florida award amounts posted on the federal Recovery Act Web site are overstated due in part to double-counting of submitted recipient reports caused by agencies assigning different award identifiers from one round to the next. Also, at one of the recipients we visited we identified errors in data collection and reporting of jobs created and retained for the second and third rounds of reporting. In addition, Florida was one of 16 states participating in a federal project to communicate audit findings earlier. Most of the Florida officials we spoke with expressed concerns about the project's usefulness, especially given the increased work load. In addition to participating in the project, various state agencies continue to provide oversight of Florida's spending of Recovery Act funds.

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).
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Andrew Sherrill

Director, Education, Workforce, and Income Security


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