Illinois – July 8, 2009

The content below was excerpted from the Illinois Appendix (PDF, 43 pages) of GAO's second bimonthly review of the Recovery Act.[1]

Contents

Use of Funds

Our work in Illinois focused on nine selected federal programs, selected primarily because they have begun disbursing funds to states and include existing programs receiving significant amounts of Recovery Act funds or significant increases in funding. Program funds are being directed to help Illinois stabilize its budget and to support local governments, particularly school districts, and are also supporting 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, Illinois had received just over $1.0 billion in increased FMAP grant awards, of which it has drawn down almost $868 million, or over 83 percent. Illinois officials reported that they are using the funds made available as a result of the increased FMAP to ensure that Recovery Act prompt payment requirements are met. These officials further reported that, if approved by the state, the plan for the funds made available as a result of the increased FMAP is to cover the cost of the state’s increased Medicaid caseload, maintain current populations and benefits, and to use the freed up state funds to offset the state budget deficit.[2]

Highway Infrastructure Investment Funds

Approximately $936 million in Recovery Act funds was apportioned to Illinois. As of June 25, 2009, $671 million had been obligated, and Illinois had contracted for projects worth $460 million. Illinois is using its funding for shovel-ready projects that largely involve road paving. For example, $3.1 million has been obligated for resurfacing of 11 miles of IL Route 47 in Grundy County—a 2.5-month project that has not yet started.

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

The U.S. Department of Education (Education) has awarded Illinois about $1.4 billion, or about 67 percent of the state’s total SFSF allocation of $2.1 billion. Illinois had obligated approximately $1.0 billion in SFSF as of June 30, 2009. Illinois is using these funds to restore general state aid to local educational agencies, which would retain staff and services that might otherwise have been cut in the absence of state funding.

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

Education has awarded Illinois about $210 million in Recovery Act ESEA Title I, Part A, funds or 50 percent of its total allocation of $420 million. Of these funds, Illinois has obligated $120,476 to local education agencies, based on information available as of June 30, 2009. Illinois has made the funds it received available to local educational agencies and schools with high concentrations of students from families that live in poverty to help improve student achievement and reduce the achievement gap. For example, Waukegan Public School District 60 plans to focus its funds on improving mathematics instruction in its ESEA Title I schools.

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

Education has awarded Illinois about $271 million in Recovery Act IDEA Part B and C funds, or 50 percent of its total allocation of just over $542 million. Of these funds, Illinois had obligated approximately $1.4 million in IDEA Part B funds to local educational agencies, and the state had expended its entire initial IDEA Part C award of nearly $8.8 million as of June 30, 2009. Illinois has made the IDEA Part B funds, which will expand existing programs, available to local educational agencies to enhance educational programs for students with disabilities. Chicago Public Schools, for instance, plans to use its funds to collect assessment data for individual schools and subgroups to determine which practices produce the best outcomes for special education students. The state used its initial IDEA Part C award to provide early intervention and related services for infants and toddlers with disabilities and their families, which officials report has helped the state avert caseload cuts of 7 to 8 percent.

Weatherization Assistance Program

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) allocated about $243 million in Recovery Act Weatherization Program funding to Illinois for a 3-year period. Based on information available as of June 30, 2009, DOE had provided approximately $121.3 million to Illinois and the state had not obligated any of these funds. Illinois plans to begin expending its funds, which will expand an existing program significantly, later in fiscal year 2010 to weatherize over 27,000 low-income residents’ homes.

Workforce Investment Act Youth Program

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) allotted about $62 million to Illinois in Workforce Investment Act Youth Recovery Act funds. Based on information available as of June 30, 2009, 85 percent of the state’s Recovery Act youth funds had been allocated to local workforce investment areas. Illinois plans to use $50 million in Recovery Act funds under this program to create about 15,000 summer jobs in 2009 for its youth. Employment activities will include positions at park districts, community colleges, and other local institutions.

Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grants

The Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Bureau of Justice Assistance has awarded $50.2 million directly to Illinois in Recovery Act funding. As of June 30, 2009, $12.4 million (about 25 percent) of these funds have been obligated by the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority, which administers these grants for the state.[3] Illinois plans to use funds under this program to support several priorities across the state, such as programs that pursue violent and predatory criminals, combat and disrupt criminal drug networks, and provide substance abuse treatment.

Public Housing Capital Fund

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has allocated about $221 million in Recovery Act funding to 99 public housing agencies in Illinois. Based on information available as of June 20, 2009, about $60 million (or 27 percent) had been obligated by these agencies. These funds flow directly from the federal government to local public housing authorities. At the two housing authorities we visited, the Chicago Housing Authority and the Housing Authority for LaSalle County, these funds were being used for various capital improvements, including the rehabilitation of vacant units, modernization of kitchens and bathrooms, improvements to common areas, and enhanced security features.

Safeguarding & TransparencyBack to top

Illinois is continuing to track Recovery Act funds separately from other sources of funding by assigning them unique codes. Further, in addition to having formed an Executive Committee to broadly oversee implementation of the Recovery Act, Illinois has formed subcommittees for specific areas related to implementation and oversight of the act, including budget and fiscal issues, the auditing of Recovery Act funds, and matters related to assessing performance and outcomes through the use of Recovery Act funds. As of June 22, 2009, the Illinois Office of Internal Audit had completed preliminary risk assessments on 19 of 22 state agencies administering Recovery Act funds and identified 9 of the agencies assessed as high risk, largely due to the amount of funds the agencies were receiving or the potential for inadequate monitoring of subrecipients. Office of Internal Audit officials noted that the volume of information on the Recovery Act that requires tracking from a variety of sources, and the speed by which funding is flowing to the state, is presenting challenges to agency and administration staff. The office is conducting more detailed analysis on the 9 high-risk agencies, including further evaluating agency internal control mechanisms as well as their capacity to monitor subrecipients, as part of conducting more detailed analysis on the 22 state agencies. The office is also prioritizing the more detailed analysis based on the anticipated expenditure dates of the federal funding by state agencies.

Assessing the Effects of SpendingBack to top

Illinois recently issued initial guidance to state agencies on collecting data related to the effects of the Recovery Act, including instructions on how to capture jobs created or retained through the use of Recovery Act funds. Some state and local agencies told us that they are creating or modifying their systems to track this type of information. However, other state and local officials expressed concerns with the lack of clear federal guidance in several areas, and indicated that challenges remain in assessing the effects of Recovery Act spending. For example, two challenges that officials mentioned were the time frames for reporting information and the lack of clear guidance on measuring jobs.[4]

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 becaus the Bureau of Justice Assistance’s solicitation for local governments closed on June 17; therefore, not all of these funds have been awarded.
  • [4] After soliciting responses from a broad array of stakeholders, OMB issued additional implementing guidance for recipient reporting on June 22, 2009. See, OMB Memorandum, M-09-21, Implementing Guidance for the Reports on Use of Funds Pursuant to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.
GAO Contact
portrait of of James C. Cosgrove

James C. Cosgrove

Illinois state team

cosgrovej@gao.gov

(202) 512-7114