District of Columbia – July 8, 2009

The content below was excerpted from the District of Columbia Appendix (PDF, 41 pages) of GAO's second bimonthly review of the Recovery Act.[1]

Contents

Use of Funds

GAO’s work focused on nine federal programs, including existing programs receiving significant amounts of Recovery Act funds or significant increases in funding, and new programs that were selected primarily because they have begun disbursing funds to states and the District. The District is using or plans to use these funds to help stabilize its budget and support Medicaid, public and charter schools, invest in improving highway infrastructure, and fund existing programs, as follows:

Funds Made Available as a Result of Increased Medicaid Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (FMAP)

As of June 29, 2009, the District had received over $98 million in increased FMAP grant awards of which it had drawn down over $89 million or almost 91 percent of its awards. The District is using funds to cover the increased Medicaid caseload, and maintain current Medicaid populations and benefits, as well as a locally funded health coverage program for certain District residents.[2]

Highway Infrastructure Investment Funds

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) apportioned $124 million in Recovery Act funds to the District in March 2009. As of June 25, 2009, $100 million of these funds had been obligated. The District Department of Transportation (DDOT) is using its apportioned funds for 9 of 15 “shovel ready” projects to repave streets and interstates, rehabilitate bridges, improve and replace sidewalks and roadways, and expand the city’s bike-share program. The first project to be completed was the repaving of Interstate 395 in the District.

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

On June 16, 2009, the U.S. Department of Education approved the District’s application for SFSF funds, and awarded the District $60 million, or about 67 percent of its total SFSF allocation of $89.3 million. The District plans to use these funds to restore state-level support for the District’s 60 local educational agencies (LEA) and the University of the District of Columbia, allowing them to, among other things, maintain teaching positions, as well as to support the Home Purchase Assistance Program and priority government services.

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

The U.S. Department of Education allocated the first half of states’ ESEA Title I, Part A allocations of about $18.8 million to the District on April 1, 2009. The District expects to receive a total of about $37.6 million in Recovery Act funds for its ESEA Title I program. The District plans to issue guidance on the appropriate use and reporting of these funds prior to releasing these funds to LEAs in early July 2009. The District is also taking steps to strengthen its ability to monitor the use of these funds.

Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), Parts B and C

The U.S. Department of Education allocated the first half of states’ ESEA Title I, Part A allocations of about $18.8 million to the District on April 1, 2009. The District expects to receive a total of about $37.6 million in Recovery Act funds for its ESEA Title I program. The District plans to issue guidance on the appropriate use and reporting of these funds prior to releasing these funds to LEAs in early July 2009. The District is also taking steps to strengthen its ability to monitor the use of these funds.

Workforce Investment Act Youth Program

As of April 3, 2009, the District had been allotted almost $4 million in Recovery Act funds for the WIA Youth Program. District officials told us they plan to spend the Recovery Act funds on the District’s year-round WIA Youth Program that provides low-income in-school youth and out-of-school youth, with a variety of services including educational assistance, work experience, and occupational skill training. According to District officials, they had already allocated $45 million for its locally funded 2009 summer youth employment program—the second largest summer youth employment program in the nation serving about 23,000 youth—before receiving the Recovery Act funds.

Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grants

The Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) has awarded about $11.7 million in Recovery Act funds to the District. The District plans to use these funds for a variety of programs focused on prisoners, criminal and juvenile justice research, and court diversion services for at-risk youth. On June 11, 2009, the Department of Justice approved the corrective actions the District had taken to address several outstanding audit issues, thereby enabling the District to begin obligating these funds. The District expects to be able to release funds by October 2009.

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). As of June 20, 2009, DCHA had obligated about $2.2 million or about 8 percent of the $27 million it received in capital grant funds, and drawn down about $169,000 from DCHA’s electronic line of credit control system account with HUD. DCHA plans to use the Recovery Act funds on 18 projects that include the rehabilitation of nearly 2,000 housing units and the installation of new energy-efficient projects at public housing facilities. As of June 6, 2009, four of the projects were underway.

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. On March 30, 2009, DOE provided the initial 10 percent allocation or $808,902 of Recovery Act funds to the District to be used for program management. On June 18, 2009, DOE approved the District’s plans for using Recovery Act weatherization funds and awarded the District an additional 40 percent of its Recovery Act funds for a total of about $4 million. The District’s Department of the Environment (DDOE), which is responsible for administering the program, will disburse the funds beginning in July 2009 through seven community-based organizations, to weatherize and improve the energy efficiency of low-income families’ homes and rental units.

Safeguarding & TransparencyBack to top

The District has modified its accounting and grants management systems to more clearly track Recovery Act funds. The District has also distributed guidance to District agencies that describes how to separately track and identify or tag Recovery Act funds, and informs the agencies that they will be held accountable for ensuring full compliance with all Recovery Act requirements. In addition, the District has established a bank account exclusively for depositing Recovery Act funds, as well as a system for notifying agencies when Recovery Act funds are received in the bank account. Further, agencies are provided weekly reports of grant funding notifications that must be reconciled. While the District government and agencies have internal controls, the controls are not integrated or included in a citywide internal control program, and past District Office of the Inspector General (OIG) reports have identified numerous weaknesses in the District’s internal controls. The OIG has identified six high-risk areas that possess known material weaknesses and problems, including some programs receiving Recovery Act funds. The OIG plans to maintain its audit efforts in these six areas, and also examine the use of Recovery Act funds as resources permit.

Assessing the Effects of SpendingBack to top

The District plans to assess the impact of Recovery Act funds by continuing to use two established processes—the 13 work groups established to oversee the use of Recovery Act funds in each program area, and the weekly accountability sessions with key District agency officials. The District also plans to use 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. In addition, the City Administrator sent a memo to all District agency financial officers reminding agencies spending Recovery Act funds that they are required by the law to regularly report several pieces of data not typically required by government contracting, such as the number of jobs created by the work in the contract. To implement that reporting, the memo states that it is imperative that agencies include specific requirements in any contract using Recovery Act funds to complete this reporting in a reliable and timely manner. Officials in some District agencies told us that there are still questions regarding OMB’s guidance on calculating the number of jobs created and jobs sustained through Recovery Act funds that need to be clarified to ensure that the required data are collected and reported correctly.

Full July ReportBack to top

Recovery Act: States' and Localities' Current and Planned Uses of Funds While Facing Fiscal Stresses
GAO-09-829
Recovery Act: States' and Localities' Current and Planned Uses of Funds While Facing Fiscal Stresses (Appendixes)
GAO-09-830SP
  • [1] Pub. L. No. 111-5, 123 Stat. 115 (Feb. 17, 2009).
  • [2] The increased FMAP available under the Recovery Act is for state expenditures for Medicaid services. However, the receipt of this increased FMAP may reduce the funds that states would otherwise have to use for their Medicaid programs, and states have reported using these available funds for a variety of purposes.
GAO Contact
portrait of of William O. Jenkins

William O. Jenkins

Director, Homeland Security and Justice

jenkinswo@gao.gov

(202) 512-8757