Georgia – September 20, 2010

The content below was excerpted from the Georgia Appendix (PDF, 46 pages) of GAO's most recent bimonthly review of the Recovery Act.[1]

What We Did

We reviewed the following programs funded under the Recovery Act-the Early Head Start Program, the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant Program, the Weatherization Assistance Program, the Tax Credit Assistance Program, the Grants to States for Low-income Housing Projects in Lieu of Low-income Housing Credits Program under section 1602 of division B of the Recovery Act (Section 1602 Program), and the Public Housing Capital Fund. We began work on the Early Head Start Program because significant funds had been obligated and on the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant Program because it was funded for the first time by the Recovery Act. We continued our work on the Weatherization Assistance Program, the Tax Credit Assistance and Section 1602 Programs, and the Public Housing Capital Fund to update the status of these programs. For descriptions and requirements of the programs covered in our review, see appendix XVIII of GAO-10-1000SP. In addition, we focused on Georgia's efforts to ensure accountability over funds and the use of Recovery Act funds by selected localities.

What We FoundBack to top

Early Head Start Program

Under the Recovery Act, the Office of Head Start designated approximately $19 million for the expansion of the Early Head Start program in Georgia. For example, the Clarke County School District, which received an Early Head Start expansion grant of about $2.2 million, used the funds in part to construct new classrooms and hire additional staff, allowing it to serve 84 additional clients. Enrichment Services Program, Inc. received an Early Head Start expansion grant of about $1.5 million, which it used to make a down payment on a new facility and hire new staff, among other things. The funding allowed it to provide Early Head Start services for the first time to 72 clients. The two grantees defined enrollment differently than each other when reporting to the Office of Head Start, but had similar processes in place to determine client eligibility.

Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant Program

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) allocated a total of about $67.2 million in formula grants to the State of Georgia-approximately $45.6 million directly to 17 cities and 10 counties and about $21.6 million to the state. The recipients we interviewed-the Georgia Environmental Finance Authority (GEFA), Cobb County, the Columbus Consolidated Government, and the City of Warner Robins-had just begun to spend funds on projects such as a revolving loan fund for improvements to commercial buildings, retrofits to government buildings, and improvements to a wastewater treatment plant. All of the recipients we interviewed were putting monitoring strategies and plans in place and developing methodologies for measuring energy savings.

Weatherization Assistance Program

DOE allocated about $125 million in Recovery Act weatherization funding to Georgia for a 3-year period. As of the end of June 2010, the 22 service providers in the state had completed 3,017 (about 22 percent) of the 13,617 homes to be weatherized with these funds by March 2012. GEFA and the three providers we interviewed have taken steps to address issues with prioritizing clients for service and awarding contracts that we identified in our May 2010 report. [2]

Tax Credit Assistance and Section 1602 Tax Credit Exchange Programs

Georgia received about $54.5 million in Tax Credit Assistance Program funds and approximately $195.6 million in Section 1602 Program funds. As of July 31, 2010, the state had committed about $228 million (approximately 91 percent) under both programs for 39 projects, including the construction of 52 units for persons over age 55 in Sandersville, Georgia. The state expects to commit the remainder of its funds by the end of September 2010. The state has processes in place to conduct oversight of the projects during construction and is developing processes designed to ensure their long-term viability after completion.

Public Housing Capital Fund

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) allocated about $113 million in Recovery Act formula funding to 184 public housing agencies in Georgia to improve the physical condition of their properties. As of August 7, 2010, these agencies had obligated all of their funds and drawn down about $62 million (approximately 55.1 percent). The housing agencies we visited in Athens, Atlanta, and Macon had made progress on projects funded with formula grants. For example, the Athens Housing Authority was close to completing the renovation of 25 scattered site housing units. HUD also awarded about $14 million in Recovery Act competitive funding to five public housing agencies in Georgia. HUD expects all five agencies to meet the Recovery Act requirement to obligate their funds within 1 year of the date they were made available.

Accountability efforts

The State Auditor's fiscal year 2010 Single Audit will include audits of Recovery Act programs. The internal audit departments of several state agencies have plans to audit or are already auditing Recovery Act funds. For example, GEFA conducts fiscal audits that focus on the contractual, administrative, and accounting aspects of the Weatherization Assistance Program. In addition, the State Accounting Office is implementing an internal control initiative to enhance accountability for Recovery Act funds. The initiative began in June 2010 and provided internal control training to 28 state agencies. These agencies will be required to certify that all necessary controls are in place by the end of fiscal year 2011.

Selected localities' use of Recovery Act funds

The Columbus Consolidated Government and the Unified Government of Athens-Clarke County had been awarded about $17.5 million and $13.3 million, respectively, as of August 6, 2010. These localities received funds for purposes such as improving energy efficiency and preventing homelessness.

Full September ReportBack to top

Recovery Act: Opportunities to Improve Management and Strengthen Accountability over States' and Localities' Uses of Funds
Recovery Act: Opportunities to Improve Management and Strengthen Accountability over States' and Localities' Uses of Funds
  • [1] Pub. L. No. 111-5, 123 Stat. 115 (Feb. 17, 2009).
  • [2] GAO, Recovery Act: States' and Localities' Uses of Funds and Actions Needed to Address Implementation Challenges and Bolster Accountability (Georgia), GAO-10-605SP (Washington, D.C.: May 26, 2010).
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