Georgia – July 8, 2009

The content below was excerpted from the Georgia Appendix (PDF, 45 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. The programs include existing programs receiving significant amounts of Recovery Act funds or significant increases in funding, and new programs. Program funds are being directed to helping Georgia stabilize its budget and support local governments, particularly school districts, and several 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, Georgia had received more than $541 million in increased FMAP grant awards, of which it had drawn down about $498 million, or 92 percent. Georgia officials reported they are using funds made available as a result of the increased FMAP to offset the state budget deficit. State officials also reported they are planning to use these funds to cover the state’s increased caseload, to maintain current Medicaid populations and benefits, and avoid cuts to eligibility, pending state approval to do so.[2]

Highway Infrastructure Investment Funds

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) apportioned $932 million in Recovery Act funds to Georgia. As of June 25, 2009, the federal government’s obligation for Georgia was $449 million. Georgia has selected the first phase of projects to be completed with Recovery Act funds and has awarded 44 contracts totaling $88 million. The projects selected include a bridge-widening project in Gwinnett County and a road-widening and -expansion project in Henry County.

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

The U.S. Department of Education has awarded Georgia its entire $1 billion initial allocation. As of June 30, 2009, the state had allocated $698 million of these funds to local education agencies and institutions of higher education. These entities plan to use the funds to stabilize their budgets and retain staff. For example, the University of Georgia plans to use its $19 million allocation for fiscal year 2010 to retain approximately 160 full-time faculty positions.

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

The U.S. Department of Education has awarded Georgia about $176 million in Recovery Act ESEA Title I, Part A funds, or 50 percent of its total allocation of approximately $351 million. The state allocated all of these funds to the local education agencies within the state in late April 2009. Local education agencies plan to use these funds to help educate disadvantaged youth by, among other things, providing training and other professional development opportunities for teachers. For example, the Richmond County School System plans to use its funds to expand services to 23 additional elementary, middle, and high schools.

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

The U.S. Department of Education has awarded Georgia about $169 million in Recovery Act IDEA, Part B and C funds, or 50 percent of its total allocation of about $339 million. Georgia allocated all of its IDEA, Part B funds to the local education agencies within the state in late April 2009. Local education agencies plan to use these funds to support special education and related services for preschool and school-aged children with disabilities. For instance, the Atlanta Public Schools plans to use its funds to provide training for its staff and retain 49 special education paraprofessionals.

Workforce Investment Act Youth Program

The U.S. Department of Labor allotted to Georgia about $31.3 million in Workforce Investment Act Youth Recovery Act funds. As of June 30, 2009, the state had allocated $26.7 million of these funds to local workforce boards. As of June 19, 2009, about 8,700 youth were enrolled in summer youth programs statewide. Overall, the state expects the funds to create more than 10,000 summer jobs for its youth.

Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grants

The U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance has awarded $36 million in Recovery Act funding directly to Georgia. As of June 25, 2009, none of these funds had been obligated by the Georgia Criminal Justice Coordinating Council, which administers these grants for the state.[3] The state plans to use these funds to support positions at state agencies with criminal justice missions and fund assistance for victims of crime, among other things.

Weatherization Assistance Program

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) allocated to Georgia about $125 million in Recovery Act weatherization funding for a 3-year period. As of June 26, 2009, DOE had provided $62.5 million to Georgia, and the state had obligated none of these funds. Georgia plans to get weatherization activities under way in August 2009 and ultimately weatherize about 13,600 homes owned by low-income families.

Public Housing Capital Fund

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has allocated about $113 million in Recovery Act funding to 184 public housing agencies in Georgia. As of June 20, 2009, these public housing agencies had obligated about $8 million (7.5 percent). At the two public housing agencies we visited (Atlanta and Athens), these funds—which flow directly to public housing authorities—will be used for various capital improvements, including modifying bathrooms and kitchens and replacing roofs, windows, and elevators.

Safeguarding & TransparencyBack to top

Georgia has issued unique accounting codes to track Recovery Act funds separately. In addition, the Governor’s Office of Planning and Budget has issued a risk management handbook that requires each agency that is a direct recipient of Recovery Act funding to prepare a risk mitigation plan. The State Auditor has provided internal controls training to state agency personnel but is awaiting additional federal guidance on targeting its risk assessments to include programs receiving Recovery Act funding. In addition, the individual state agencies that administer Recovery Act funds have implemented internal controls, such as risk assessments and monitoring plans.

Assessing the Effects of SpendingBack to top

While waiting for additional federal guidance, the state proceeded with plans to adapt an automated system used for financial management to meet Recovery Act reporting requirements. The system is operational, and the state has begun collecting data on jobs created and retained.

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] 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.
  • [3] 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.
GAO Contact
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Alicia P. Cackley

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John H. Pendleton

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