Florida – September 23, 2009

The content below was excerpted from the Florida Appendix (PDF, 34 pages) of GAO's third bimonthly review of the Recovery Act.[1]

Contents

Use of Funds

GAO’s work focused on three federal programs funded under the Recovery Act: the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) Youth Program, the Weatherization Assistance Program, and the Highway Infrastructure Investment Program. These programs were selected primarily because they have begun disbursing Recovery Act funds or are existing programs that are receiving significant amounts of these funds. Specifically, we selected WIA because a summer youth program was implemented in Florida this summer with Recovery Act funds. We selected the weatherization program based on discussions with the Florida Chief Inspector General, who considers the program high risk; and we selected the Highway Infrastructure Investment Program because it is one of the largest programs receiving Recovery Act funds flowing to the state and localities. Consistent with the purposes of the Recovery Act, funds from the programs we reviewed are being directed to help Florida and local governments stabilize their budgets and stimulate infrastructure development and expand existing programs intended to provide needed services and jobs.

We conducted site visits at two regional workforce boards for WIA in Broward and Hillsborough Counties because these boards are among the largest recipients of Recovery Act WIA dollars in the state and had the highest numbers of anticipated participants. In these counties we visited two contractors administering summer youth programs. We selected two contracts managed by Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) district offices located in Lake City in Columbia County and Chipley in Washington County because they were among the largest dollar contracts that had been awarded as of July 20, 2009.

The following provides highlights from our review:

WIA Youth Program

  • The state of Florida received almost $43 million for WIA youth activities under the Recovery Act and set a goal of serving 16,000 youth in 2009 through its WIA summer employment activities for youth program. As of August 15, 2009, the Agency for Workforce Innovation estimates that it has expended $22.3 million or 52 percent of its total and in its July 31, 2009 report to the Department of Labor (Labor) said it had served 11,902 youth.
  • The agency expects to meet its enrollment goal by the end of the summer program. However, Broward and Hillsborough counties’ summer youth programs overcame several implementation challenges. Both counties were challenged by recruiting participants under tight time frames, and other factors, such as screening applicants for eligibility.
  • Broward County and Hillsborough County workforce boards have taken steps to monitor activities performed with Recovery Act WIA Youth funds, such as work experience and work-based learning activities. However, Hillsborough County’s on-site monitoring activities for older participants is limited in comparison to Broward County. Employers and youth we talked with praised the summer youth programs in Broward and Hillsborough counties, but data on the extent to which youth achieved gains in work readiness are not yet available.

Weatherization Assistance Program

  • The Department of Energy (DOE) has allocated about $176 million over 3 years to Florida for the Recovery Act Weatherization Assistance Program to weatherize over 19,000 homes. On June 18, 2009, DOE had provided to the state about $88 million, or about half the total fund allocation. As of August 31, 2009, the Florida Department of Community Affairs (DCA) had obligated about $4.2 million and expended about $1.1 million of the initial $88 million allocated by DOE.
  • Florida has begun using Recovery Act weatherization funds to increase the capacity of local providers to weatherize homes. Florida is intending to implement training and internal controls to help ensure quality and oversight of Recovery Act spending on weatherization. However, as of August 31, 2009, Florida has not yet started weatherizing homes.
  • Recovery Act funds for weatherization have created jobs in Florida. State officials still have questions about reporting requirements and concerns about the required documentation for the Davis-Bacon Act. Recovery Act funding has created 109 jobs.

Highway Infrastructure Investment

  • The U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) apportioned $1.35 billion in Recovery Act funds to Florida. As of September 1, 2009, the federal government has obligated $1 billion, and $196,000 has been reimbursed by FHWA to the state for payments to contractors.
  • While some progress has been made in awarding contracts for statewide highway projects (25 contracts out of 45 FHWA-approved projects, totaling $726 million as of August 28, 2009), few contracts have been awarded by localities (5 contracts out of the 395 FHWA-approved contracts, totaling $1 million). According to state officials, unlike the state’s funds, which were required to be obligated before June 30, 2009, funds that were suballocated to local agencies were not subject to the 120-day rule. As a result, the local agencies were given more time to obligate funds, advertise bids, and award contracts.
  • State officials consider current processes and procedures adequate for highway contract solicitation and management, and the Florida Department of Transportation districts use consultants to assist with project monitoring. To report data on jobs created, the Florida Department of Transportation has developed an automated system, which was put into operation on May 29, 2009. For the months of June and July, the Florida Department of Transportation reported to FHWA that a total of 155 jobs were created as a direct result of Recovery Act-funded highway projects.

Updated Information on Safeguards and Transparency

  • Florida continues to take steps to provide safeguards and transparency. State Inspectors General have provided fraud training, prepared agencies to implement reporting requirements, and assessed internal controls, among other activities. Florida’s Office of Economic Recovery continues to develop a database to collect Recovery Act data from state agencies that it will then upload to the federal database. While the fiscal year 2009 Single Audit is currently under way, the state auditor is awaiting additional federal guidance from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) on Single Audits on Recovery Act programs.

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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Andrew Sherrill

Director, Education, Workforce, and Income Security

sherrilla@gao.gov

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