Massachusetts – September 23, 2009

The content below was excerpted from the Massachusetts Appendix (PDF, 36 pages) of GAO's third bimonthly review of the Recovery Act.[1]

Contents

Use of Funds

We reviewed three programs in Massachusetts funded under the Recovery Act—Highway Infrastructure Investment funds, Transit Capital Assistance funds, and the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) Youth Program. We selected these programs for different reasons:

  • Contracts for highway projects using Highway Infrastructure Investment funds have been under way in Massachusetts for several months and provided an opportunity to review financial controls, including oversight of contracts.
  • The Transit Capital Assistance funds had a September 1, 2009, deadline for obligating a portion of the funds and, further, provided an opportunity to review nonstate entities that receive Recovery Act funds.
  • The WIA Youth Program in Massachusetts is largely directed toward a summer employment program and, therefore, was in full operation.

With all of these programs, we 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. We reviewed contracting procedures and examined two specific contracts under both the Recovery Act Highway Infrastructure Investment funds and the WIA Youth Program. In addition to these three programs, we also updated funding information on three Recovery Act education programs where significant funds are being disbursed—the U.S. Department of Education (Education) State Fiscal Stabilization Fund (SFSF) and Recovery Act funds under Title I, Part A, of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA), as amended, and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), Part B. Consistent with the purposes of the Recovery Act, funds from the programs we reviewed are being directed to help Massachusetts and local governments stabilize their budgets and to stimulate infrastructure development and expand existing programs—thereby providing needed services and potential jobs.

Following are the highlights of our review of these funds:

Highway Infrastructure Investment

  • The U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) apportioned $438 million in Recovery Act funds to Massachusetts. As of September 1, 2009, the federal government has obligated $203.2 million to Massachusetts and $4.8 million has been reimbursed by the federal government.[2] As of September 12, 2009, Massachusetts had awarded contracts or advertised for bids on 39 projects.
  • Most of the projects involve road paving, but the state is beginning to advertise more complex projects, such as a project making safety and mobility improvements at four major intersections along the Dorchester Avenue corridor in Dorchester.
  • The commonwealth anticipates that the additional funds suballocated to urban areas will be obligated by the March 2, 2010, deadline.
  • State officials have some concerns about Massachusetts’s ability to meet its transportation maintenance-of-effort requirement because of the commonwealth’s difficult budget situation.

Transit Capital Assistance Funds

  • DOT’s Federal Transit Administration (FTA) apportioned $290 million in Recovery Act funds to Massachusetts and urbanized areas located in the state. As of September 1, 2009, FTA has obligated $206 million.
  • The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA), the largest transit provider in New England, will use the first round of funding for a series of projects worth $112.6 million that include facility improvements, fleet enhancements, and capital improvement projects, as well as an enhancement of the MBTA’s Silver Line rapid transit service.
  • FTA found that the September 1, 2009, 50 percent obligation requirement was met.

WIA Youth Program

  • The U.S. Department of Labor allotted about $24.8 million to Massachusetts in WIA youth Recovery Act funds. The commonwealth allocated $21.1 million to local workforce boards, and as of September 5, 2009, the local boards have drawn down about $11 million and served 6,850 youth.
  • While the commonwealth met its goal of serving 6,500 youth, programs faced challenges in getting youth on board in the initial weeks of the summer. One reason for the delay was that youth had difficulty supplying suitable documentation of eligibility.

Updated Funding Information on Education Programs

  • Education has awarded Massachusetts about $726 million, or about 73 percent of its total SFSF allocation. As of September 4, 2009, the commonwealth has distributed $412 million to local educational agencies, helping the state restore aid to school districts.
  • Additionally, Education has awarded Massachusetts all of its Recovery Act funds under Title I, Part A, of ESEA, as amended—about $164 million. Based on information available as of September 4, 2009, the commonwealth has allocated $78 million to local educational agencies and about $2 million has been drawn down by local educational agencies (LEA). These funds are to be used to help improve teaching, learning, and academic achievement for students in families that live in poverty.
  • Education has also awarded Massachusetts all of its Recovery Act funds under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), Part B—about $291 million. Massachusetts has allocated $145 million to LEAs, which have drawn down almost $10 million as of September 4, 2009. These funds are to be used to support special education and related services for children, as well as youth with disabilities.

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).
  • [2] Transportation has interpreted “obligation of funds” to mean the federal government’s commitment to pay for the federal share of the project.
GAO Contact
portrait of of Stanley J. Czerwinski

Stanley J. Czerwinski

Director, Strategic Issues

czerwinskis@gao.gov

(202) 512-6520

portrait of of Laurie Ekstrand

Laurie Ekstrand

Massachusetts State Team

ekstrandl@gao.gov

(202) 512-6845