October 2012 — GAO's Comments on the Latest Round of Recipient Reporting
What GAO Found
From October 2009 through March 2012, the number of FTEs that DOE’s Office of Environmental Management (EM) funded with Recovery Act funds peaked at a high of 11,000 FTEs in the last quarter of fiscal year 2010 and decreased to about 1,400 FTEs in the second quarter of fiscal year 2012, according to the data on the federal government’s Recovery Act website. In fiscal year 2011, the number of FTEs fluctuated from about 8,000 to 10,000 FTEs per quarter, as some projects were completed and other projects (called buy-back projects) were started with excess funds from those completed. According to EM officials, these excess funds resulted when contractors performed work more efficiently or avoided potential problems that would have required spending management reserves or contingency funds. In the first quarter of fiscal year 2012, the number of FTEs dropped sharply—to about 2,700—as EM completed more projects. These trends were largely in line with EM’s initial plan to start Recovery Act projects quickly and to generally complete them by the end of fiscal year 2011. The number of FTEs is expected to continue to decline through fiscal year 2013, as EM completes the last of the projects funded by the Recovery Act.
As of the end of the second quarter of fiscal year 2012, the 17 EM cleanup sites were in different stages of reducing their number of Recovery Act-funded FTEs. Twelve of the 17 EM cleanup sites reported no FTEs, and 5 sites—Argonne National Laboratory, Richland Office at the Hanford Site, Idaho National Laboratory, Oak Ridge Reservation, and Savannah River Site—continued to report FTEs, but their FTEs had decreased significantly from the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2010 when the overall number of EM FTEs peaked.
What GAO DidBack to top
To determine the number of FTE jobs the DOE’s Office of Environmental Management (EM) funded with Recovery Act funds from October 2009 through March 2012, we reviewed pertinent provisions of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 and Office of Management and Budget (OMB) guidance on reporting FTEs. We obtained data from EM on the number of FTEs that EM’s contractors reported to the government’s official Recovery Act website since October 2009. To assess the accuracy of the FTE data, we discussed DOE’s process for reviewing these data with officials from DOE’s Office of the Chief Financial Officer and EM’s Recovery Act Program Office. These officials told us that DOE does accuracy reviews, including EM’s comparison of the information contractors submitted to the website with the information that contractors provide directly to EM site officials. We also compared the quarterly FTE data that EM provided us from the government website with two other sources—from the Recovery.gov website, as downloaded by GAO, and from contractors, as directly collected by EM at sites.
 Under OMB guidance, agencies should calculate FTEs by totaling the number of hours that workers charge to Recovery Act projects in a given quarter of the fiscal year and dividing the sum by the total number of work hours representing a full-time work schedule. OMB, Memorandum, “Updated Guidance on the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act – Data Quality, Non-Reporting Recipients, and Reporting of Job Estimates,” Dec.18, 2009.
 By the end of the second quarter of fiscal year 2012, DOE had started a total of 20 buy-back projects.
 A management reserve is a portion of the contract price managed by the contractor and is available to address realized risks that are within the scope of the contract. A government contingency fund, which is controlled by the government and is not part of the contract price, is used to manage risks affecting cost and schedule, such as changed requirements and delays in government-furnished services, equipment, and items; and other influences outside the contractor’s control.
 Some of these 12 sites reported less than one-half FTE for the quarter, which rounds to zero FTE.