District of Columbia – April 23, 2009

Use of Funds

An estimated 90 percent of Recovery Act funding provided to states and localities nationwide in fiscal year 2009 (through Sept. 30, 2009) will be for health, transportation, and education programs. The three largest programs in these categories are the Medicaid Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (FMAP) awards, highways, and the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund.

Medicaid Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (FMAP) Funds

  • As of April 3, 2009, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) had made about $87.8 million in increased FMAP grant awards to the District of Columbia.
  • As of April 1, 2009, the District had drawn down about $49.9 million, or about 57 percent of its initial increased FMAP grant awards.
  • District officials plan to use funds made available as a result of the increased FMAP to cover an increased caseload, offset general fund deficits, and maintain current Medicaid eligibility and benefit levels.

Transportation—Highway Infrastructure Investment

  • The District of Columbia was apportioned $123.5 million for highway infrastructure investment on March 2, 2009, by the U.S. Department of Transportation.
  • As of April 16, 2009, the U.S. Department of Transportation had obligated $36.6 million for one project in the District of Columbia.
  • The District of Columbia plans to use these funds for reviewed and vetted "shovel ready" projects, such as pavement restoration and resurfacing work on federal roadways, once the appropriate contracting processes have been completed.

U.S. Department of Education State Fiscal Stabilization Fund

  • The District of Columbia was allocated $89.4 million from the initial release of these funds on April 2, 2009, by the U.S. Department of Education. District officials intend to use these funds to increase aid across all schools in the District. As of April 2, 2009, about $59.9 million of this allocation was available for the District to draw down upon.
  • Before receiving the funds, states are required to submit an application that provides several assurances to the U.S. Department of Education. These include assurances that they will meet maintenance of effort requirements, or that they will be able to comply with waiver provisions, and that they will implement strategies to meet certain educational requirements, including increasing teacher effectiveness, addressing inequities in the distribution of highly qualified teachers, and improving the quality of state academic standards and assessments. As of April 15, 2009, the District was awaiting a response from the U.S. Department of Education on the District's proposed plan for using the funds before submitting an application.

In addition to the funding for these three programs, the District of Columbia is receiving Recovery Act funds under other programs, such as programs under Title I, Part A, of the Elementary and Secondary Education (ESEA), commonly known as the No Child Left Behind Act; programs under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA); and two programs of the U.S. Department of Agriculture—one for administration of the Temporary Food Assistance Program and one for competitive equipment grants targeted at low income districts from the National School Lunch Program. The District's plans for using these and other Recovery Act funds are discussed throughout this appendix.

Safeguarding & TransparencyBack to top

The District plans to use its existing financial systems to track the use of Recovery Act funds, and plans to use an ongoing accountability program to monitor District agency efforts to ensure that funds are used as intended. District officials are working to correct 89 material weaknesses in internal controls over both financial reporting and compliance with requirements applicable to major federal programs that were identified in the Fiscal Year 2007 Single Audit Report for the District of Columbia. The major federal programs in which these weaknesses were identified include programs that will be receiving Recovery Act funds, such as Medicaid's FMAP, ESEA Title I Education grants, and Workforce Investment Act programs. At present, it is not clear whether corrective actions will be completed before the Recovery Act funds are received by the District. This could increase the risk that Recovery Act funds may not be used properly. The District's Inspector General has also identified a number of District agencies with internal control and management issues that place them at risk for misusing Recovery Act funds. The District has initiated a Recovery Act Web site to help ensure that its Recovery Act efforts are transparent to the public.

Assessing the Effects of SpendingBack to top

The District plans to assess the impact of Recovery Act funds by using the information in reports required by federal agencies under the Recovery Act, including information on the economic impact of the funds, such as on job creation. The District has provided initial guidance to city agencies on the tracking and use of Recovery Act funds and is awaiting further guidance from the federal government, particularly information related to measuring jobs. District officials stated that the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) should provide a common definition of "job" and a metric to measure the number of jobs that are created by Recovery Act funds. District officials are also concerned about the lack of guidance for the methodology of tracking the new jobs created.

For More InformationBack to top

The above excerpts are taken from GAO's April 23, 2009 Bimonthly Review of the Recovery Act:

Recovery Act: As Initial Implementation Unfolds in States and Localities, Continued Attention to Accountability Issues Is Essential
GAO-09-580, April 23, 2009
For more information on Washington, D.C. within the report, please see the following pages:
Appendix XIX: Washington, D.C. pages: 281 - 291
GAO Contact
portrait of of William O. Jenkins

William O. Jenkins

Director, Homeland Security and Justice

jenkinswo@gao.gov

(202) 512-8757