District of Columbia – September 23, 2009

The content below was excerpted from the District of Columbia Appendix (PDF, 33 pages) of GAO's third bimonthly review of the Recovery Act.[1]

Contents

Use of Funds

In the District, we reviewed three Recovery Act programs funded by the U.S. Department of Education (Education), and the Transit Capital Assistance program funded by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Transit Administration (FTA). These programs were selected primarily because they include existing programs receiving significant amounts of Recovery Act funds. In addition, Education has designated the District’s Office of the State Superintendent for Education (OSSE) as a high-risk grantee, for weaknesses related to financial management and grants management for several of the programs receiving Recovery Act funds. Further, the Transit Capital Assistance funds had a September 1, 2009, deadline for obligating a portion of the funds, and also provided an opportunity to review nonstate entities that receive Recovery Act funds. We also reviewed contracting procedures and examined 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. Consistent with the purposes of the Recovery Act, funds from the programs we reviewed are being directed to help the District stabilize its budget and to stimulate infrastructure development and expand existing programs—thereby providing needed services and potentially jobs. We focused on how funds were being used; how safeguards were being implemented, including those related to procurement of goods and services; and how the District plans to meet the Recovery Act reporting requirements. The funds include the following:

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

  • As of August 28, 2009, Education had awarded the District about $65.3 million of the District’s total Education State Fiscal Stabilization Fund (SFSF) allocation of about $89.3 million. As of September 1, 2009, the District had not allocated any of these funds to local education agencies (LEA). An OSSE official told us that the District plans to submit a revised SFSF application to Education that proposes increasing the percentage of SFSF funds to school districts to restore the District’s fiscal year 2010 funding for elementary and secondary education to the fiscal year 2008 funding level.

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

  • 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 students from families that live in poverty. As of September 1, 2009, the District had made preliminary allocations of $33.8 million to LEAs, which have not drawn down these funds. The remaining $3.8 million was set aside for school recognition financial awards, school improvement, and administration.

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

  • Education allocated about $18.8 million to the District to be used to support early intervention, special education, and related services for infants, toddlers, children, and youth with disabilities. As of September 1, 2009, the District has made preliminary allocations of the $16.7 million in IDEA Part B funds to LEAs, which had not yet drawn down these funds. The remaining $2.1 million are IDEA Part C funds that had not been allocated as of September 1, 2009.

Transit Capital Assistance Program

  • FTA apportioned $214.6 million of Recovery Act Transit Capital Assistance funding to the National Capital Region, which consists of Washington, D.C., and surrounding counties in Maryland and Virginia. As of September 1, 2009, FTA had obligated almost 100 percent of the apportioned funds for transit projects in the DC/Maryland/Virginia Urbanized Area. The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA), the National Capital Region’s largest recipient of Recovery Act Transit Capital Assistance funding, was apportioned $201.8 million in grants that it plans to use to fund capital projects, such as equipment purchases, station upgrades, and purchases of buses and vans.

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 September 1, 2009, $115.7 million had been obligated. The District Department of Transportation (DDOT) is using its apportioned funds for 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. We selected one contract and one task order for two ongoing projects to discuss in greater depth with the relevant agency contracting officials. The task order was for a streetlight upgrade on Dalecarlia Parkway, Northwest Washington D.C., and the contract was for sidewalk repair at various locations in the District.

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 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 September 3, 2009, 9 of the projects were underway. We selected two contracts to discuss in greater depth with the relevant agency contracting officials. The first contract we reviewed was for balcony repairs at the Greenleaf Gardens public housing community, and the second contract we reviewed was for kitchen and bathroom upgrades at the Benning Terrace public housing community.

Full September ReportBack to top

Recovery Act: Funds Continue to Provide Fiscal Relief to States and Localities, While Accountability and Reporting Challenges Need to Be Fully Addressed
GAO-09-1016
Recovery Act: Funds Continue to Provide Fiscal Relief to States and Localities, While Accountability and Reporting Challenges Need to Be Fully Addressed (Appendixes)
GAO-09-1017SP
  • [1] Pub. L. No. 111-5, 123 Stat. 115 (Feb. 17, 2009).
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William O. Jenkins

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