Illinois – May 26, 2010

The content below was excerpted from the Illinois Appendix (PDF, 36 pages) of GAO's most recent bimonthly review of the Recovery Act.[1]

What We Did

We conducted work on six programs funded under the Recovery Act: Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grants (JAG), Weatherization Assistance Program, Public Housing Capital Fund, Tax Credit Assistance Program (TCAP), Section 1602 Tax Credit Exchange Program (Section 1602 Program), and Highway Infrastructure Investment. For descriptions and requirements of the programs we included in our review, see appendix XVIII of GAO-10-605SP. We selected these programs primarily because they received significant amounts of Recovery Act funds. For each program, we conducted interviews and examined relevant program documents and data to determine what challenges recipients of Recovery Act funds faced in meeting mandated obligation deadlines; to assess whether state agencies met monitoring requirements set forth under the Recovery Act; or to follow up on issues we reported on in previous bimonthly reviews.

We also met with officials from the Illinois Office of the Governor, the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE), and selected local educational agencies (LEA) to determine what steps ISBE has taken to ensure the completeness and accuracy of the employment data LEAs report to the agency, which ISBE uses to complete its quarterly reporting requirements under section 1512 of the Recovery Act. [2]

Additionally, our work in Illinois included monitoring the state's fiscal situation and visits to two counties-Cook County and Winnebago County-to review their use of Recovery Act funds and the impact of the funds on their budgets, as well as meeting with state-level auditors to determine what steps they are taking to oversee state agencies' implementation of the Recovery Act. [3]

What We FoundBack to top

Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grants

The U.S. Department of Justice's Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) awarded $83.7 million to Illinois and units of local government (localities) within the state under the Recovery Act JAG program. Based on a statutory formula, BJA awarded 60 percent of these funds to the state (which the state primarily used to make grants to localities) and 40 percent of the funds directly to eligible localities within the state. Only seven localities qualified for the $33.5 million in direct funding available through BJA. As a result, the localities in Illinois that received a direct grant received disproportionately larger sums compared to localities in other states. The average award for these seven localities was $4.8 million; the City of Chicago and Cook County were jointly awarded $28.7 million. The localities we spoke to said that they used their Recovery Act JAG grants primarily to purchase capital equipment and pay law enforcement wages.

Weatherization Assistance Program

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) allocated $242.5 million to Illinois for the Illinois Home Weatherization Assistance Program, a substantial increase over the state's allocation of base program funds in prior years. Illinois's Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) Office of Energy Assistance, the agency responsible for administering Illinois's weatherization assistance program, plans to use the Recovery Act funds to weatherize 27,000 homes-as of March 31, 2010, 11,283 homes had been completed or were in the process of being weatherized. Although DCEO expects to meet DOE's 5 percent inspection requirement for 2010, as of March 31, 2010, it had not inspected homes from 19 of the 35 the local agencies that weatherize homes on behalf of the state.

Public Housing Capital Fund

Ninety-nine public housing agencies in Illinois received $221.5 million in Recovery Act Capital Fund formula grants. Although all of the housing agencies met the March 17, 2010, deadline for obligating their funds, some faced challenges in doing so. For example, one housing agency we spoke to had difficulty finding enough local contractors that were willing and able to bid for its Recovery Act projects, which included replacing the roofs and siding on and replacing lights and appliances in most of its properties. Officials from the Department of Housing and Urban Development's (HUD) Illinois State Office of Public Housing and the housing agencies we spoke to stated that Recovery Act-related activities have not to date had any noticeable effect on their ability to administer their existing Capital Fund programs.

Tax Credit Assistance Program and Section 1602 Tax Credit Exchange Program [4]

As of April 30, 2010, the Illinois Housing Development Authority (IHDA) had awarded $91.6 million (out of the $94.7 million available) in TCAP funds, and $128.2 million (out of the $264.5 million available) in Section 1602 Program funds to a total of 46 projects, including the Rosa Parks Apartments, a low-income housing development located on Chicago's west side. Despite the much needed financing these two programs are providing to low-income housing projects in Illinois, IHDA officials raised concerns about the agency's ability to bear the administrative costs associated with these programs.

Highway Infrastructure Investment Funds

The U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Highway Administration apportioned $935.6 million in Recovery Act funds to Illinois. The federal government obligated the state's full apportionment by the 1-year deadline of March 2, 2010. As of May 3, 2010, $451 million had been reimbursed by the federal government. Almost 77 percent of Recovery Act highway obligations for Illinois have been for pavement projects. For example, $3.1 million has been obligated for resurfacing of 11 miles of IL Route 47 in Grundy County.

Recipient Reporting-Education

ISBE implemented procedures to ensure that LEAs report employment data (expressed as full-time equivalents, or FTEs) to the agency in advance of the quarterly reporting deadlines under section 1512 of the Recovery Act. Although ISBE instituted reasonableness checks designed to identify reporting errors, the agency does not have procedures in place to assess the accuracy of LEAs' calculations. According to ISBE officials, the agency has limited resources to independently review LEAs' calculations in the short amount of time it has to compile and submit its recipient reports. The agency has contracted with accounting firms to review a selection of LEAs' State Fiscal Stabilization Fund FTE submissions for the first reporting period.

Illinois's Fiscal Condition and Oversight Activities

  • State budget stabilization. Recovery Act funds continued to assist the state in funding its education, infrastructure, and Medicaid programs. An estimated $1.3 billion from the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund and $1.6 billion made available as a result of increased federal assistance to Medicaid are expected to allow the state to provide $2.9 billion in services in fiscal year 2010. However, the state faces a fiscal crisis stemming from a structural deficit, escalating pension costs, decreasing revenues, and unpaid bills.
  • Counties' use of Recovery Act funds. The counties we spoke with generally used their Recovery Act awards to pay for programs and services that would otherwise have gone unfunded. Moreover, the counties indicated that they generally avoided using Recovery Act funds for programs or personnel costs that would result in additional funding commitments for long-term obligations.
  • State-level audits. The Illinois Office of the Auditor General and the Illinois Office of Internal Audit are currently conducting audits of Recovery Act-funded programs; however, officials from both offices do not expect to report on the results of their audits until June 2010. The Illinois Office of Accountability is charged with assisting the Governor in complying with the Recovery Act and Illinois's Federal Stimulus Tracking Act.

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).
  • [2] Under Section 1512 of the Recovery Act, recipients of Recovery Act funds must submit quarterly reports that include employment and other data to the federal agencies through the Web site. These recipient reports are due on the 10th day of the month following the end of the reporting period. These data are available to the public on the Web site.
  • [3] We selected Cook County because it has the largest population of any county in Illinois and Winnebago county because it has a high unemployment rate relative to other counties in Illinois.
  • [4] Pursuant to the Recovery Act, we are to review the use of funds of programs included under the act's Division A. TCAP is a Division A program, while the Section 1602 Program is included under Division B of the Recovery Act. We chose to include the Section 1602 Program in our review because both TCAP and the Section 1602 Program supplement the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit Program and are being implemented simultaneously by state housing finance agencies.
GAO Contact
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James C. Cosgrove

Illinois state team

(202) 512-7114