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Recovery Act: States Could Provide More Information on Education Programs to Enhance the Public's Understanding of Fund Use

GAO-10-807 Published: Jul 30, 2010. Publicly Released: Sep 02, 2010.
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The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Recovery Act) provides $70.3 billion for three education programs--the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund (SFSF), Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (Title I), and Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). The Act requires recipients to be accountable for how these funds are being used and what is being achieved. To help attain the level of transparency needed for accountability, recipients are to report quarterly on their award activities and expected outcomes. This information is available to the public on, the government's official Recovery Act Web site. This report covers three Education programs funded by the Recovery Act. It (1) describes what the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the Department of Education (Education) did to facilitate implementation of requirements for recipients to describe the use of funds and (2) assesses the extent to which award descriptions are transparent It also describes reported fund uses for a sample of subrecipients. GAO reviewed requirements for reporting in the Act as well as guidance provided by OMB and Education. GAO assessed the transparency of descriptions for the three education programs on

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Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Department of Education In order to provide the public with more useful information on how Recovery Act funds are being used, the Secretary of Education, in consultation with OMB, should remove the standard language for one field--the quarterly activities/project description field--from its guidance and instruct states to include, to the extent possible, information on how the funds are being used and potential project outcomes or results.
Closed – Implemented
OMB provided updated guidance requiring recipients to provide clear and complete information for the narrative fields, including the quarterly activities/project description field. The Department of Education removed the generic language for the quarterly activities/project description field from its "Tip Sheets" guidance and provided suggestions to states regarding how recipients can report more transparent information.

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AccountabilityDocumentationEducation program evaluationEducational grantsEducational standardsFederal fundsstate relationsFunds managementGovernment information disseminationGrant award proceduresGrants to statesInformation disclosureProgram evaluationReporting requirementsUse of fundsAssessmentsTransparency