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Recovery Act Education Programs: Funding Retained Teachers, but Education Could More Consistently Communicate Stabilization Monitoring Issues

GAO-11-804 Published: Sep 22, 2011. Publicly Released: Sep 22, 2011.
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The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Recovery Act) provided $70.3 billion for three education programs--the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund (SFSF); Title I, Part A of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (Title I); and Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), Part B. One goal of the Recovery Act was to save and create jobs, and SFSF also requires states to report information expected to increase transparency and advance educational reform. This report responds to two ongoing GAO mandates under the Recovery Act. It examines (1) how selected states and local recipients used the funds; (2) what plans the Department of Education (Education) and selected states have to assess the impact of the funds; (3) what approaches are being used to ensure accountability of the funds; and (4) how Education and states ensure the accuracy of recipient reported data. To conduct this review, GAO gathered information from 14 states and the District of Columbia, conducted a nationally representative survey of local educational agencies (LEA), interviewed Education officials, examined recipient reports, and reviewed relevant policy documents.

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Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Department of Education To ensure all states receive appropriate communication and technical assistance for SFSF, consistent with what some states received in response to SFSF monitoring reviews, the Secretary of Education should establish mechanisms to improve the consistency of communicating monitoring feedback to states, such as establishing internal time frames for conveying information found during monitoring.
Closed – Implemented
In November 2011, the Department of Education refined its SFSF monitoring procedures. For example, within five days of an exit meeting, Education will send a state a written summary of the issues identified during the review and request any additional documentation to help resolve the issues. In instances where there is a need for ongoing discussions between Education and state officials on issues identified during monitoring, Education will communicate in writing with the state at least monthly.

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AccountabilityBudget outlaysData integrityEducation program evaluationEducational facilitiesEducational grantsEmployee retentionFederal aid to localitiesstate relationsFunds managementGrant monitoringGrants to statesReporting requirementsState budgetsSurveysTeachersUse of funds