Ohio – April 23, 2009

Use of Funds

An estimated 90 percent of Recovery Act funding provided to states and localities nationwide in fiscal year 2009 (through Sept. 30, 2009) will be for health, transportation and education programs. The three largest programs in these categories are the Medicaid Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (FMAP) awards, the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund, and highways.

Medicaid Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (FMAP) Funds

  • As of April 3, 2009, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) had made about $760 million in increased FMAP grant awards to Ohio.
  • As of April 1, 2009, Ohio has drawn down about $420.6 million, or 55.3 percent of its initial increased FMAP grant awards.
  • Ohio officials indicated that they will use Recovery Act funds made available as a result of the increased FMAP to cover increased caseloads, offset general fund shortfalls due to state budget deficits, ensure compliance with prompt payment provisions, maintain existing populations, avoid eligibility restrictions, increase provider payments, and maintain and increase current levels of benefits.

Transportation—Highway Infrastructure Investment

  • Ohio was apportioned about $935.7 million for highway infrastructure investment on March 2, 2009 by the U.S. Department of Transportation.
  • Of the $935.7 million, about $774.2 million was apportioned to the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT).
  • On March 26, 2009, ODOT announced that it will fund 149 projects with $774.2 million in Recovery Act funding. According to ODOT officials, they are currently meeting with all project sponsors and performing detailed reviews of project documentation, confirming federal eligibility, assessing project delivery, and establishing project schedules.
  • As of April 16, 2009, the U.S. Department of Transportation had not obligated any Recovery Act funds for Ohio projects.
  • ODOT expects to begin advertising for bids during the week of April 20, 2009.

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

  • Ohio was allocated $1,198,882 from the initial release of these funds on April 2, 2009, by the U.S. Department of Education.
  • As of April 17, 2009, Recovery Act funds for education and some child care programs had not been appropriated by the legislature. Officials with the Governor's office and Ohio's Office of Budget and Management (OBM) said these funds would be included in the budget for state fiscal years 2010-2011 and must pass by June 30, 2009.
  • Before receiving the funds, states are required to submit an application that provides several assurances to the Department of Education. These include assurances that they will meet maintenance of effort requirements (or that they will be able to comply with waiver provisions) and that they will implement strategies to meet certain educational requirements, including increasing teacher effectiveness, addressing inequities in the distribution of highly qualified teachers, and improving the quality of state academic standards and assessments.
  • State officials said that they intend to apply for State Fiscal Stabilization Funds sometime in the future.

The state of Ohio expects to receive a total of $8.2 billion from the Recovery Act over the next 3 years (fiscal years 2009-2011). In addition to the funding described above, Ohio is also receiving Recovery Act funds under other programs, such as programs under Title I, Part A of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) (commonly known as No Child Left Behind); programs under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA); and two programs of the U.S. Department of Agriculture—one for administration of the Temporary Food Assistance Program and one for competitive equipment grants targeted to low-income districts from the National School Lunch Program. The status of plans for using some of these funds is described in this appendix.

Before passage of the Recovery Act, Ohio created a Web site at Recovery.Ohio.gov, which represents the state's effort to create an open, transparent, and equitable process for allocating Recovery Act funds. Through the Web site, the state has encouraged proposals for uses of Recovery Act funds, and as of April 8, 2009, individuals and organizations from across Ohio have submitted over 23,000 proposals. While still receiving proposals, new submissions to the Web site have dropped in number dramatically, as guidance from federal agencies has clarified details about funding opportunities. By mid-April, approximately 26 state agencies with programmatic expertise had sorted the 23,000 submissions for response. Ohio regularly updates its Web site to provide timetables and information on applying for funds from state and federal agencies.

State agencies are beginning to identify specific projects to fund. On April 1, 2009, the Governor signed House Bill 2. As described by state officials, the bill appropriates $1.9 billion in Recovery Act resources for 11 state agencies. According to state officials, additional appropriations are needed to spend Recovery Act funds for education and some child care programs, including Ohio's share of the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund. According to state officials, these appropriations are included in House Bill 1, which is part of the state's biennial budget and must be approved by June 30. As of April 1, 2009,

  • The Ohio Department of Public Safety received about 730 proposals for Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant projects through the Ohio Recovery Web site. Applications for the state-administered funds are due on May 1, 2009; the department issued its request for proposals with caveats that specific reporting requirements are forthcoming from OMB and the U.S. Department of Justice.
  • The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) plans to allocate Workforce Investment Act (WIA) funds directly to local area workforce boards, and ODJFS provided these boards with estimates early so they could begin the planning process. Before funds were appropriated, some local areas began their efforts to procure providers for youth programs, particularly for work sites.

Safeguarding & TransparencyBack to top

Ohio is planning to use existing systems and safeguards to track Recovery Act funds, but reliance on subrecipients to provide data for enhanced reporting requirements may present challenges. For example, the fiscal year 2007 single state audit identified material weaknesses with a number of the systems that Ohio's Department of Jobs and Family Services uses to record and process eligibility and financial information for all their major federal programs. Moreover, officials with the Columbus Metropolitan Housing Authority (CMHA) noted limitations in how far they could reasonably be expected to track Recovery Act funds. They said they could track Recovery Act dollars to specific projects but could not systematically track funds spent by subcontractors on materials and labor.

Assessing the Effects of SpendingBack to top

Ohio continues to explore ways to assess the impact of Recovery Act funds, but officials anticipate challenges. Specifically, in the absence of guidance on the types of data to collect, funding could be released before state officials have determined reporting requirements. Moreover, Ohio officials are concerned that, without uniform reporting requirements, each state will develop their own methodologies for assessing the impact of the federal stimulus, eliminating any possibility of making assessments that are comparable nationwide.

For More InformationBack to top

The above excerpts are taken from GAO's April 23, 2009 Bimonthly Review of the Recovery Act:

Recovery Act: As Initial Implementation Unfolds in States and Localities, Continued Attention to Accountability Issues Is Essential
GAO-09-580, April 23, 2009
For more information on Ohio within the report, please see the following pages:
Appendix XVI: Ohio pages: 241 – 250
GAO Contact
portrait of George Scott

George Scott

Director, Education, Workforce, and Income Security

scottg@gao.gov

(202) 512-5932

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David Trimble

Acting Director, Natural Resources and Environment

trimbled@gao.gov

(202) 512-9338