Illinois – September 23, 2009
Use of Funds
GAO’s work in Illinois updated funding information on three education and one public housing program, and focused on three other programs funded under the Recovery Act—Highway Infrastructure Investment, the Transit Capital Assistance Program, and the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) Youth Program. The three programs we focused on were selected for different reasons:
- Illinois developed its own criteria to define economically distressed areas for projects to be funded with Highway Infrastructure Investment funds. We followed up to determine if Illinois reassigned any of its transportation projects in light of any feedback from federal or state officials pertaining to the state’s criteria in identifying distressed areas. In addition, highway contracts have been underway in Illinois and provided an opportunity to review oversight procedures for use of Recovery Act funds.
- The deadline for obligating a portion of Transit Capital Assistance funds was September 1, 2009, and, further, this program provided an opportunity to review non-state entities that receive Recovery Act funds.
- The Recovery Act provided funding for WIA Youth Program activities including summer employment and, therefore, provided an opportunity to review a program that was well underway in Illinois.
For these three programs in Illinois, GAO focused on how funds were being used; how safeguards were being implemented, including those related to procurement of goods and services; and how results were being assessed. Consistent with the purposes of the Recovery Act, funds from the programs we reviewed are being directed to help Illinois and local governments stabilize their budgets, stimulate infrastructure development and expand existing programs.
Three education programs under the Recovery Act
- The U.S. Department of Education (Education) has awarded Illinois approximately $1.5 billion in U.S. Department of Education State Fiscal Stabilization Fund (SFSF) funds. These funds have helped the state restore its school districts’ funding shortages. As of September 1, 2009, local educational agencies (LEAs) have drawn down $1.2 billion. Additionally, Education has awarded Illinois $210 million in Recovery Act funds under Title I, Part A, of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) of 1965. These funds are to be used to help educate disadvantaged youth; for example, through providing professional development to teachers on how to relate to this special population. Based on information available as of September 1, 2009, LEAs have drawn down $431,500. Education has also awarded Illinois $253 million of its Recovery Act funds under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), Part B. These funds are to be used to support special education and related services for infants, toddlers, children, and youth with disabilities. Illinois LEAs have drawn down $1.4 million in IDEA funds as of September 1, 2009. While the first half were available as of April 1, 2009, Education announced on September 4, 2009 that the second half of Title I and IDEA Recovery Act funds were available.
Highway Infrastructure Investment
- The U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) apportioned $936 million in Recovery Act funds to Illinois for highway infrastructure projects. As of September 1, 2009, $736 million had been obligated and $200 million, the most of any state in the country, had been reimbursed by the federal government.
Transit Capital Assistance Program
- The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Transit Administration (FTA) apportioned $375.5 million in Recovery Act funds to Illinois and urbanized areas located in the state. Of this amount, $354.3 million was for urbanized areas, and $21.2 million was for non-urbanized areas. As of September 1, 2009, the federal government’s obligation for Illinois and urbanized areas located in Illinois was $360.9 million.
Workforce Investment Act Youth Program
- The U.S. Department of Labor (Labor) allotted about $62 million to Illinois in Workforce Investment Act Youth Program Recovery Act funds. The state has allocated about $53 million to local workforce investment boards, and as of September 1, 2009, expended about $22 million. As of the end of August, almost 13,000 youth had been placed in summer employment activities across the state. Illinois expects to meet its target for youth summer employment activities of 15,000 youth, and the local workforce area in the state receiving the most funds—the Chicago local workforce area—has met its target of 7,300 youth. We found that the type of summer employment opportunities varied across the two workforce areas we visited and included positions such as office assistants, teacher’s aides, camp counselor assistants, and clerical aides.
Public Housing Capital Fund
- Illinois has 99 public housing agencies that, in total, have received $221 million in Recovery Act-funded, Public Housing Capital Fund formula grants. As of September 5, 2009, 83 of these public housing agencies have obligated a total of $76 million and 56 have drawn down a total $6 million.
States and localities are among those receiving Recovery Act funds directly from federal agencies that are expected to report quarterly on a number of measures—including use of the funds, an estimate of the number of jobs created and the number of jobs retained. In preparation for these reporting requirements, Illinois issued guidance since our last report requiring state agencies to develop procedures for collecting, entering, reviewing and reconciling these data elements. The state is also in the process of conducting a trial run of the reporting process for state agencies required to report on the impact of the act. In reviewing plans for complying with recipient reporting, we found that state and local agencies varied in their approach to, and understanding of, reporting requirements. For example, the Illinois State Board of Education is currently working on a collection tool that will be used by LEAs in reporting Recovery Act required data elements to the Board, while officials from transit agencies told us that they largely had existing systems in place to report required information. Local workforce board officials told us that while they are tracking required information for reporting, they were unclear on how to report potential jobs created or retained through the WIA program’s summer youth component.
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
- Summary (HTML) Highlights Page (PDF) Full Report (PDF, 163 pages) Accessible Text
- Recovery Act: Funds Continue to Provide Fiscal Relief to States and Localities, While Accountability and Reporting Challenges Need to Be Fully Addressed (Appendixes)
- Summary (HTML) Full Report (PDF, 671 pages) Accessible Text
-  Pub. L. No. 111-5, 123 Stat. 115 (Feb. 17, 2009).