This report responds to two mandates for GAO under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Recovery Act). First, it is the latest report on the uses of and accountability for Recovery Act funds in selected states and localities. Second, it comments on recipients' reports of the jobs created and retained. The Recovery Act provided $2.1 billion for Head Start and Early Head Start, primarily to expand services. GAO addressed four questions: (1) How have Head Start and Early Head Start grantees used Recovery Act funds, including for expanding enrollment? (2) What challenges have grantees encountered in spending Recovery Act funds? (3) How has the Office of Head Start (OHS) monitored the use of Recovery Act funds? (4) How has the quality of jobs data reported by Recovery Act recipients, particularly Head Start grantees, changed over time? In this report, GAO also updates the status of open recommendations from previous bimonthly and recipient reporting reviews. To address these questions, GAO interviewed grantees, analyzed federal agency and recipient reported data, and interviewed officials.
Recommendations for Executive Action
|Office of Head Start||1. To help ensure that grantees report consistent enrollment figures, the Director of the Office of Head Start should better communicate a consistent definition of "enrollment" to grantees for monthly and yearly reporting and begin verifying grantees' definition of "enrollment" during triennial reviews.|
|Office of Head Start||2. To provide grantees consistent information on how and when they will be expected to obligate and expend federal funds, the Director of the Office of Head Start should clearly communicate its policy to grantees for carrying over or extending the use of Recovery Act funds from one fiscal year into the next.|
|Office of Head Start||3. To better consider known risks in scoping and staffing required reviews of Recovery Act grantees, the Director of the Office of Head Start should direct OHS regional offices to consistently perform and document Risk Management Meetings and incorporate known risks, including financial management risks, into the process for staffing and conducting reviews.|