Pennsylvania – December 10, 2009

The content below was excerpted from the Pennsylvania Appendix (PDF, 23 pages) of GAO's fourth bimonthly review of the Recovery Act.[1]


What We Did

For GAO’s work in Pennsylvania, we reviewed four specific programs funded under the Recovery Act: Highway Infrastructure Investment, Transit Capital Assistance, Fixed Guideway Infrastructure Investment, and the Weatherization Assistance Programs. Our work focused on the status of the program’s funding, how funds are being used, and issues specific to each program. The highway and transit programs have approaching deadlines in March 2010 for obligating the Recovery Act funds before these funds are subject to withdrawal and redistribution. Pennsylvania’s weatherization program was starting to spend funds at the time of our work. We also include updated information and Pennsylvania survey data for three Recovery Act education programs—the U.S. Department of Education (Education) State Fiscal Stabilization Fund (SFSF); Title I, Part A of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA), as amended; and Part B of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), as amended. For descriptions and requirements of the programs we covered, see appendix XVIII of GAO-10-232SP.

We met with the Pennsylvania Accountability Office to gain an understanding of the state’s experience in meeting Recovery Act reporting requirements for the first quarterly reports that were due in October 2009. Pennsylvania is a centralized reporting state, and the Pennsylvania Accountability Office submits the quarterly recipient reports for Recovery Act funds received by state agencies. Each state agency receiving Recovery Act funds—the direct recipient—is responsible for collecting and entering data for its subrecipients and vendors into a centralized Recovery Act data warehouse.

Finally, we continued to track the state’s fiscal condition and also visited four local governments to discuss the amount of Recovery Act funds each expects to receive and to learn how those funds will be used. We selected Harrisburg and Dauphin County, which are located in a medium-sized urban area encompassing the state capitol, with a county unemployment rate below the state’s average of 8.3 percent. We also selected Allentown and Lehigh County, which are located in the third largest urban area in Pennsylvania, with unemployment rates higher than the state’s average.

What We Found

Highway Infrastructure Investment

As of October 31, 2009, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) had obligated $885 million of the $1.026 billion of Recovery Act funds apportioned to Pennsylvania and $150 million had been reimbursed. As of November 20, 2009, Pennsylvania had received bids for 275 of its 293 projects and had 270 projects under way, mainly for pavement improvements and bridge improvements or replacements.

Transit Programs

For its Transit Capital Assistance Program, DOT’s Federal Transit Administration (FTA) apportioned $327.5 million in Recovery Act funds to Pennsylvania and urbanized and nonurbanized areas located in the state. As of November 5, 2009, FTA had obligated $290.0 million. For its Fixed Guideway Infrastructure Investment Program, FTA apportioned $91.9 million in Recovery Act funds to the Philadelphia and Pittsburgh urbanized areas, all of which had been obligated by FTA as of November 5, 2009.

Weatherization Assistance Program

As of November 19, 2009, the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) had released $10 million to the Department of Labor and Industry (L&I) to provide weatherization training and certification, awarded contracts for 41 of the 43 weatherization agencies, and released $41.5 million to 41 agencies to begin weatherizing homes. While DCED has focused its efforts on releasing funds to the agencies, it faces several challenges to meeting its spending and production targets. These include expanding its oversight capacity, certifying and training weatherization workers, and implementing a statewide procurement system for weatherization materials purchased with Recovery Act funds.

Education Programs

For SFSF, on November 2, 2009, Education approved Pennsylvania’s application for its initial allocation of $1.4 billion. In fiscal year 2009-10, Pennsylvania will use $655 million to restore and increase state funding for local educational agencies (LEAs) and $93.2 million to restore state funding for public institutions of higher education (IHEs). For ESEA Title I, Part A, Education has awarded Pennsylvania about $400.6 million in Recovery Act funds. For IDEA, Part B, Education has awarded Pennsylvania about $441.7 million in Recovery Act funds. According to data from Education as of November 6, 2009, Pennsylvania had drawn down $70.4 million in Recovery Act ESEA Title I, Part A funds and $74.7 million in IDEA, Part B funds.

Recipient Reporting

Pennsylvania’s Accountability Office reported that it successfully submitted 276 recipient reports before October 10, 2009, on behalf of 13 state agencies using its centralized Recovery Act data warehouse. All of these reports were posted immediately on the state’s Web site. By October 30, 2009, Pennsylvania had revised 246 of its preliminary reports largely because of updated federal agency guidance and federal requests to standardize award dates and project descriptions. Three transit agencies in Pennsylvania, that were to file directly with the federal government, did not successfully submit their recipient reports in October 2009.

Pennsylvania’s Fiscal Condition

On October 9, 2009, Pennsylvania enacted its 2009-10 budget for the fiscal year that began July 1, 2009. Pennsylvania now has budget authority to spend Recovery Act funds, according to the state budget office. Even with Recovery Act funds to help with budget stabilization, the $27.8 billion general fund budget is $524 million less than last year, and state agencies are preparing for layoffs. The budget assumed no growth in general fund revenues over 2008-09 revenues and included $3.3 billion in new recurring revenues as well as onetime revenues. However, the state’s general fund revenues reported as of October 2009 were 1.8 percent below estimates for fiscal year 2009-10—a revenue shortfall of $160 million.

Localities’ Use of Recovery Act Funds

The cities of Harrisburg and Allentown as well as Dauphin and Lehigh counties report that they have or will receive Recovery Act funds. These four localities plan to use Recovery Act funds to prevent homelessness and for onetime uses, such as improving energy efficiency in government buildings and purchasing law enforcement equipment.

Full December ReportBack to top

Recovery Act: Status of States' and Localities' Use of Funds and Efforts to Ensure Accountability
Recovery Act: Status of States' and Localities' Use of Funds and Efforts to Ensure Accountability
  • [1] Pub. L. No. 111-5, 123 Stat. 115 (Feb. 17, 2009).
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