At the direction of Vice President Biden, the Administration is taking new steps to improve the extent of detail in reports submitted by recipients of federal recovery funds.
"More than 90 percent of all Recovery Act funding recipients reported on the use of their funding. While this level is remarkably high for a first-of-its-kind nation-wide effort, missing information is unacceptable. We will work to make sure that recipients fully meet their legal obligation to report," said Vice President Biden. "Our direction emphasizes the extraordinary responsibility that falls on all government workers to prove to the American people that we are spending their dollars well -- to inform citizens how, when, and where Recovery Act dollars are being spent."
Congress required that Recovery Act funding recipients report quarterly on the use and economic impact of those funds at the local level. The Recovery and Accountability Transparency Board published the first report data on October 31, 2009. A recent analysis from the Governmental Accountability Office (GAO) noted the effort to educate recipients and encourage reports provided unparalleled access to data about the use of federal dollars at the local level.
However, the Vice President was not satisfied with the data, both in terms of data quality and of the incomplete set of reports from funding recipients, and pressed for steps that would work to close the gaps on the level and detail of reporting.
The Vice President's team and the White House Office of Management and Budget already are working with the Recovery Board to address data quality concerns. Now, in a memorandum to department and agency heads, OMB Director Peter Orszag is requiring federal agencies to identify each non-compliant recipient, learn about the circumstances of the non-compliance, and determine the need, if any, for future action regarding each non-filing recipient.
"At no other time, with no other federal program, has the government ever attempted to provide this level of transparency on the use of federal funds," Vice President Biden said. "Our actions today continue the Administration's commitment of going beyond business as usual' to develop an unprecedented system of obligating, disbursing, tracking, and reporting on the use of Recovery funds."
The OMB guidance deems recipients of Recovery Act funds who failed to submit a Section 1512 report, as required by the terms of their award, to be non-compliant. Federal agencies are directed to consider a range of actions based upon the severity of non-compliance. For less serious instances, such as those involving recipients who experienced technical challenges, agencies are to help recipients avoid similar problems in the next reporting cycle. In more serious cases, existing funds could be revoked or the recipient could be barred from receiving any further federal funds after repeatedly failing to file required reports. If the non-compliance appears to be fraudulent, agencies are to refer the matter to appropriate officials for criminal investigation.