Florida – September 20, 2010

The content below was excerpted from the Florida Appendix (PDF, 35 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. For this review, we collected relevant data from June to September 2010 on the use of specific funds, recipients' experiences in reporting Recovery Act expenditures and results to state and federal agencies, and steps to ensure accountability of the funds (see table 1). Our review focused exclusively on these entities and programs and our results cannot be generalized to Florida or nationwide. For descriptions and requirements of the programs we covered, see appendix XVIII of GAO-10-1000SP.

Weatherization Assistance Program; Entities and sites selected:

  • Florida Department of Community Affairs (DCA);
  • Two subgrantees: Tampa Hillsborough Action Plan, and Miami-Dade County Community Action Agency. Selected subgrantees based on the dollar value of weatherization funding allocated to the respective programs and geographic dispersion; Methodology and information collected:
  • DCA: Discussed management controls in place.
  • Subgrantees: Selected 28 weatherization client files: 13 randomly and 15 nongeneralizable cases based on geographic dispersion within the subgrantees' service areas, high dollar amount and whether the home was inspected by a contract field monitor to review for documentation supporting compliance with DCA requirements, such as income eligibility; however, we did not independently verify clients' income.
  • Weatherized homes: Visited 20 homes to determine whether 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.

Tax Credit Assistance Program (TCAP) and Section 1602 Program; Entities and sites selected:

  • Florida Housing Finance Corporation (FHFC)
  • Three projects receiving funding awards: Cypress Cove in Winter Haven; Bonnet Shores in Lakeland; and Northwest Gardens 1 in Ft. Lauderdale. Projects were selected based on source of funds.

Methodology and information collected:

  • FHFC: Reviewed and collected relevant documentation.
  • Projects: Visited Cypress Cove and Bonnet Shores sites to observe status of projects; interviewed FHFC, Cypress Cove, Bonnet Shores, Northwest Gardens and Boston Capital officials with focus on the increased risks and costs to FHFC for monitoring compliance, FHFC's internal controls for ensuring compliance with federal requirements, and changes in asset management responsibilities among project owners, investors, and FHFC.

Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant; Entities and sites selected:

  • City of Jacksonville, City of Miami, Miami-Dade County, and the City of Tampa were selected because, among cities and counties receiving grants, they received the largest allocations.

Methodology and information collected:

  • Interviewed cognizant officials and collected relevant documentation.

Early Head Start Expansion Grant; Entities and sites selected:

  • US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Head Start (OHS)
  • Two grantees: Miami-Dade Community Action Agency and Children First, Inc. in Sarasota. Grantees were selected based on the size of the grant, geography, and previous audit findings.

Methodology and information collected:

  • OHS Atlanta Regional Office: Interviewed officials regarding oversight and grantee use of funds
  • Grantees: Interviewed officials regarding their use of Recovery Act funds, challenges in spending within the Recovery Act timeframe, and protocols for enrollment of eligible children.

State and local budgets; Entities and sites selected:

  • State budget officials;
  • Selected Miami-Dade County because it received Energy Efficiency Conservation Block Grants (EECBG). We conducted joint site visits to the county for the use of Recovery Act funding in general, and its use of EECBG specifically, to focus on a common program from a budget and program perspective.

Methodology and information collected:

  • Interviewed state officials on state's use and effect of Recovery Act funds on the current fiscal year, 2010-2011, budget and strategies for when these funds are no longer available and reviewed budget documentation.
  • Interviewed county officials on use and amount of Recovery Act funds received, effect of these funds on the county's budget, and strategies for addressing challenges when Recovery Act funds are no longer available, and reviewed budget documents.

Contracting; Entities and sites selected:

  • Selected a total of 12 highway, education, and Workforce Investment Act (employment and training) contracts that we had reviewed in previous audit cycles to gain an understanding of the extent to which officials believed the contracts were awarded competitively and chose pricing structures that reduce the government's risk.

Methodology and information collected:

  • We followed up on 12 contracts to determine whether contracts experienced significant changes to cost, schedule, scope of work, and/or experienced performance issues.
  • We administered a questionnaire to the project managers responsible for each contract and reviewed their responses and supporting documentation, such as contracts, contractor performance reports, and project management system reports.
  • We also interviewed Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) officials and FDOT's Inspector General to obtain further understanding of how the state manages contracts, including changes to contract schedules.

Transparency and accountability; Entities and sites selected:

  • Florida Auditor General
  • Florida Chief Inspector General and Agency Inspectors General
  • Florida Recovery Czar

Methodology and information collected:

  • Interviewed state officials on audit work planned or completed. Reviewed accountability activities reported by state officials and Inspectors General.
  • Reviewed state officials' websites to assess transparency of state's accountability activities and information made publicly available.
  • Participated in the Inspector General's quarterly Recovery Act Oversight Partners Meeting.

Recipient reporting; Entities and sites selected:

  • Florida Recovery Czar
  • Florida Department of Community Affairs
  • Florida Energy and Climate Commission
  • City of Tampa
  • Tampa Hillsborough Action Plan
  • Pinellas County Urban League

Methodology and information collected:

  • Interviewed state officials on the reporting of jobs created and retained.
  • Interviewed a local agency administering the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant and two subrecipients of the Weatherization Assistance Program regarding jobs calculations for recipient reporting for the quarter ended June 30, 2010 and reviewed documentation used to calculate the reported number of jobs.

What We FoundBack to top

Weatherization

As of June 30, 2010, Florida reported weatherizing 3,878 housing units, or about 20 percent of the 19,090 housing units it expects to weatherize with Recovery Act funding, and spending $35 million, or 40 percent of the $88 million it has thus far been allocated. Florida's Department of Community Affairs (DCA) has instituted various management controls over the program, but our review of two additional subgrantees identified similar control gaps and compliance issues as those identified in our May 2010 report. For example, weatherization work done was often not consistent with the recommendations of home energy audits and no reasons were given for the differences; in some instances, work was charged to the program but not done or lacked quality; several potential health and safety issues were not addressed; and contractors' prices were not being compared to local market rates, as required by DCA. In addition, DCA's contract field monitors did not identify these issues in their reviews of the two subgrantees' completed cases we and they reviewed. DCA officials have acknowledged these problems and have taken steps to address the problems, including changing procedures and guidelines and instructing contract field monitors to be more attentive to these issues. The two subgrantees we reviewed also agreed to take corrective actions.

Tax Credit Assistance and Section 1602 Tax Credit Exchange

Although Florida's Housing Finance Corporation (FHFC) and its project owners appeared to be on track to meet the Department of Housing and Urban Development's spending deadlines for TCAP, this did not appear to be the case for Department of the Treasury's December 31, 2010 funding and spending deadlines for the Section 1602 Program. For example, as of July 30, 2010, 28 provisionally approved projects had not yet received final funding awards under the Section 1602 Program. FHFC generally expected these projects to receive final approval or close by November 2010. In addition, several projects could face additional risk because they did not have third-party investors who would also typically monitor the projects to ensure compliance with program requirements and protect their financial interests. FHFC has taken or planned steps to address the risks associated with not meeting Treasury's deadlines and the absence of third-party oversight. FHFC reported significant job creation under these programs, but the methodologies used for these estimates differed. TCAP is subject to Recovery Act recipient reporting requirements but the Section 1602 Program is not.

Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grants

As of July 15, 2010, of the municipalities we reviewed, only Jacksonville did not yet have monitoring procedures in place to track EECBG funds. While each city and county had met project requirements, such as environmental review, they varied in their progress toward meeting Department of Energy deadlines for obligating funds.

Early Head Start Expansion Grants

Delays in OHS's award of the grant and in grantee implementation of the program slowed the delivery of services. For example, although Miami-Dade County Community Action Agency anticipated serving all its Recovery Act-funded children by January 1, 2010, it was not able to achieve full enrollment until months later. Due to the delays, the Community Action Agency also expects to have unspent funds at the end of fiscal year 2010, but they hope to obtain approval to use the unspent funds in the second and final year of the grant.

State and local budgets

Florida's state budget for the current fiscal year includes $2.6 billion in Recovery Act funds in addition to about $270 million for increased federal match for Medicaid. However, the state may be required to make budget reductions for its fiscal year 2011-2012 when the flow of Recovery Act funding decreases substantially. Officials in Miami-Dade County said that Recovery Act funds are considered as nonrecurring revenue and have primarily been used for infrastructure and capital projects and that budget gaps have been closed with salary and service reductions and the use of reserve funds; remaining reserves are now below the goal established in county policy.

Contracting

While most of the 12 Recovery Act-funded contracts we reviewed had post-award changes, according to project managers, the changes generally did not have significant effects on the projects' outcomes or costs and were within acceptable levels.

Transparency and accountability

The Office of Inspector General (OIG) at each Florida agency receiving Recovery Act funds continues to conduct oversight activities. For example, the Florida Department of Transportation's (FDOT) OIG reported that it performed 493 reviews and identified no findings that would jeopardize federal funding. The State Auditor General's Office performs annual audits of federal award expenditures, including the $1.8 billion identified as Recovery Act funds in fiscal year 2008-2009. The Auditor General reported that its audits of these expenditures in certain programs, such as Medicaid, identified some internal control issues.

Recipient reporting

Florida's Recovery Czar said that overall this round of recipient reporting appeared to go smoothly as the process has become routine. However, at the three recipients we visited we identified some reporting omissions or errors in estimating job creation or retention.

Full September ReportBack to top

Recovery Act: Opportunities to Improve Management and Strengthen Accountability over States' and Localities' Uses of Funds
GAO-10-999
Recovery Act: Opportunities to Improve Management and Strengthen Accountability over States' and Localities' Uses of Funds
(Appendixes)
GAO-10-1000SP
  • [1] Pub. L. No. 111-5, 123 Stat. 115 (Feb. 17, 2009).
GAO Contact
portrait of of Andrew Sherrill

Andrew Sherrill

Director, Education, Workforce, and Income Security

sherrilla@gao.gov

(202) 512-7252