District of Columbia – December 10, 2009

The content below was excerpted from the District of Columbia Appendix (PDF, 19 pages) of GAO's fourth bimonthly review of the Recovery Act.[1]

Contents

What We Did

GAO’s work in the District focused on specific programs funded under the Recovery Act, as well as general issues involving the effect of Recovery Act funds on the District’s budget and the District’s readiness to report on the use and effect of these funds by program. The programs we reviewed—three Recovery Act programs funded by the U.S. Department of Education (Education), and the Weatherization Assistance Program funded by the U.S. Department of Energy—were selected primarily because they include existing programs receiving significant amounts of Recovery Act funds or programs receiving significant increases in funding from the Recovery Act. We also updated information on the use of Highway Infrastructure Investment funds, and Public Housing Capital funds. In addition, we reviewed contracting procedures and selected and discussed with officials four contracts awarded with Recovery Act funds—two for highway infrastructure projects, and two for public housing projects—to examine how District agencies were implementing the Recovery Act. Our work focused on the status of the program’s funding, how the funds were being used, and issues that were specific to each program. We also reviewed the District’s experience in meeting Recovery Act reporting requirements concerning jobs created and sustained. For descriptions and requirements of the programs we covered, see appendix XVIII of GAO-10-232SP.

What We Found

U.S. Department of Education (Education) State Fiscal Stabilization Fund

Education awarded the District about $65.3 million of the District’s total State Fiscal Stabilization Fund (SFSF) allocation of about $89.3 million. As of November 6, 2009, the District had not distributed any of these funds to local educational agencies (LEA).

Title I, Part A, of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA), as Amended

Education allocated about $37.6 million in Recovery Act funds to the District to be used to help improve teaching, learning, and academic achievement for disadvantaged students. As of November 6, 2009, the District had not yet drawn down any of its ESEA Title I Recovery Act funds.

Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), Part B

Education allocated about $16.7 million to the District to be used to support special education and related services for children with disabilities. As of November 6, 2009, the District had not yet drawn down these funds.

Highway Infrastructure Investment Funds

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) apportioned $124 million to the District in March 2009 for highway infrastructure and other eligible projects. As of October 31, 2009, $106 million had been obligated, and $3 million had been reimbursed by the federal government. The District Department of Transportation (DDOT) is using its apportioned funds for 13 “ready-to-go” projects to repave streets and interstates, rehabilitate bridges, improve and replace sidewalks and roadways, and expand the city’s bike-share program. We selected two contracts to discuss in greater depth with the relevant agency contracting officials. One contract we reviewed was for the construction portion of the “Great Streets” project, which includes reconstruction and streetscape improvements of Pennsylvania Avenue, and the other for construction and demolition of the New York Avenue Bridge.[2]

Public Housing Capital Fund

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has allocated $27 million to the District of Columbia Housing Authority (DCHA). DCHA plans to use Recovery Act funds on 20 projects to be performed at 13 different public housing developments. The projects include the rehabilitation of nearly 2,000 housing units and the installation of new energy-efficient projects at public housing facilities. We selected two contracts to discuss in greater depth with the relevant agency contracting officials. The first contract we reviewed was for window replacement at the Regency House public housing community, and the second contract we reviewed was for unit renovations at the Horizon House public housing community.[3]

Weatherization Assistance Program

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) allocated about $8 million in Recovery Act weatherization funds to the District for a 3-year period. The District Department of the Environment (DDOE), which is responsible for administering the program for the District, has not yet obligated or spent the weatherization funds. According to DDOE officials, they have been developing the capacity and infrastructure to administer the program, such as hiring new staff and adding three new community-based organizations to manage the weatherization projects that are funded through the Recovery Act. DDOE plans to use the funds to weatherize and improve the energy efficiency of about 785 low-income families’ homes and rental units.

Recipient Reporting

The District met the October 10, 2009, quarterly Recovery Act recipient reporting deadline after modifying its approach when the federal reporting Web site did not have the capability to permit the District to submit data in a batch format. Officials within the Office of the City Administrator took steps to help ensure the quality and completeness of the recipient data, including reviewing the data for reasonableness and potential inaccuracies, before allowing District agencies to submit the reporting information. Overall, District officials told us that the reporting process went smoothly, and District agencies generally did not have issues with the report submission process or submission deadline.

The District’s Use of Recovery Act Funds

While the infusion of Recovery Act funds have helped mitigate the negative effects of the recession on the District’s budget, the District continues to face fiscal challenges. As a result of deteriorating economic conditions and a decrease in expected revenues, in June 2009 the District faced a projected budget shortfall of $150 million for fiscal year 2010. The District closed this budget shortfall using a combination of measures including Recovery Act funds, reduced spending by District agencies, and tax increases.

Full December ReportBack to top

Recovery Act: Status of States' and Localities' Use of Funds and Efforts to Ensure Accountability
GAO-10-231
Recovery Act: Status of States' and Localities' Use of Funds and Efforts to Ensure Accountability
(Appendixes)
GAO-10-232SP
  • [1] Pub. L. No. 111-5, 123 Stat. 115 (Feb. 17, 2009).
  • [2] We selected these contracts managed by DDOT for review because they were the largest dollar contracts that had been awarded as of October 8, 2009.
  • [3]We selected one contract managed by DCHA because it was for a new and higher dollar value project in a housing complex GAO visited for a prior Recovery Act report, and the other because it was the largest dollar contract awarded as of October 19, 2009.
GAO Contact
portrait of of William O. Jenkins

William O. Jenkins

Director, Homeland Security and Justice

jenkinswo@gao.gov

(202) 512-8757