Ohio – May 26, 2010

The content below was excerpted from the Ohio Appendix (PDF, 37 pages) of GAO's most recent bimonthly review of the Recovery Act.[1]

What We Did

To continue our ongoing analysis of the use of the Recovery Act funds in Ohio, we updated information on the U.S. Department of Transportation's (DOT) Highway Infrastructure Investment Program, the Department of Housing and Urban Development's (HUD) Public Housing Capital Fund, and three education programs administered by the U.S. Department of Education[2]. We also reviewed the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant Program (JAG), administered by the Department of Justice. We previously reviewed this program for our July 2009 report. In addition, we collected information on five programs that we have not covered in the past:

  • two programs administered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)—the Clean Water State Revolving Fund (SRF) and the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund;
  • one additional program administered by the U.S. Department of Justice—the COPS Hiring Recovery Program (CHRP); and
  • two programs that provide capital investments in low income housing tax credit projects—the Tax Credit Assistance Program administered by HUD, and Section 1602 Tax Credit Exchange Program administered by the U.S. Department of Treasury.

For descriptions and requirements of the programs we covered, see appendix XVIII in GAO-10-605SP. In addition, we continued to gather information about the state's economic condition and met with officials from two local governments that we have visited in the past—the City of Toledo and Putnam County. We also contacted officials from oversight entities in Ohio responsible for monitoring Recovery Act funds to discuss their most recent, ongoing, and planned audit results; as well as Ohio's participation in the Office of Management and Budget's (OMB) Single Audit pilot program.

What We FoundBack to top

Following are highlights of our review:

Clean Water State Revolving Fund and Drinking Water State Revolving Fund

The Ohio EPA funded more Recovery Act SRF projects than any state. We found that Ohio EPA has not developed a written monitoring plan for its oversight of Recovery Act projects. Workloads kept the state from completing some project inspections quickly and during site visits to three projects we found some issues with implementing key aspects of the Recovery Act, including "Buy American" provisions and Davis-Bacon wage rates requirement. Moreover, we found that Ohio EPA lacks a system to verify the accuracy of the number of jobs reported by contractors to subrecipients, as funded through these two programs.

Education

Our work found that the Ohio Department of Education has developed plans for monitoring subrecipients' use of Recovery Act funds. However, we identified weaknesses in how the state plans to monitor State Fiscal Stabilization Fund (SFSF) funds allocated to institutions of higher education. In addition, we found that reporting by the Ohio Board of Regents did not specifically identify the receipt and use of SFSF funds for institutions of higher education, from February through December 2009, which makes it difficult to determine how the funds were used.

Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant program and COPS Hiring Recovery Program

We visited three localities in Ohio—the cities of Columbus and Youngstown and Franklin County—and found that Recovery Act funds are being used to support immediate criminal justice needs. Generally, funds from both grant programs are being used to fund law enforcement personnel; however, these localities are also using Recovery Act funds to purchase equipment. At the state level, Ohio Office of Criminal Justice Services has awarded over $35 million in Recovery Act funds to support more than 300 criminal justice projects throughout Ohio.

Highway Infrastructure Investment Program

The state Ohio was apportioned $936 million in Recovery Act funds for highway infrastructure and other eligible projects. Ohio continues to receive bids averaging 10 percent below state cost estimates. These lower-than-estimated project costs allowed the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) to fund more projects than originally planned. As of April 28, 2010, ODOT had awarded contracts for 339 out of 393 projects authorized by the Federal Highway Administration. Recovery Act funds account for almost one quarter of Ohio's transportation program for fiscal year 2010 - 2011. A decline in major sources of state transportation revenue may affect the state's ability to meet the maintenance-of-effort requirement.

Public Housing Capital Fund

All 52 public housing agencies in Ohio met the March 17, 2010 deadline to obligate funds provided by the Recovery Act. However, seven agencies in Ohio had obligated less than 50 percent of the funding as the deadline neared. Officials at two of those 7 agencies identified several challenges including (1) delays in design work and bid specifications; (2) "Buy American" provisions; and (3) new state environmental requirements.

Low Income Housing Tax Credit programs

Ohio was allocated approximately $201.6 million for the Tax Credit Assistance Program (TCAP) and the Section 1602 Tax Credit Exchange Program. The Ohio Housing Finance Agency is responsible for administering the funds across the state and has committed almost all TCAP and Section 1602 Program funds to projects.

Selected localities' use of Recovery Act funds

In Ohio, the state and some localities continue to feel the effects of the economic downturn and reduced revenues. We re-visited Putnam County and the City of Toledo and found they continue to face fiscal challenges. Recent Recovery Act awards went to specific projects that were not funded from the general fund. For example, the city of Toledo was awarded funds from the Neighborhood Stabilization Program 2 to fund the removal of housing units and replace them with a mix of affordable housing and market-rate housing. Putnam County received additional Workforce Investment Act of 1998 funds to provide for further worker assistance.

Accountability

There are a number of state entities identified as having responsibility for monitoring Recovery Act-funded projects in Ohio, namely the State Audit Committee, the Office of Internal Audit (OIA), the Auditor of State, and state-appointed Deputy Inspector General for Recovery Act funds.

Full May ReportBack to top

Recovery Act: States' and Localities' Uses of Funds and Actions Needed to Address Implementation Challenges and Bolster Accountability
GAO-10-604
Recovery Act: States' and Localities' Uses of Funds and Actions Needed to Address Implementation Challenges and Bolster Accountability
(Appendixes)
GAO-10-605SP
  • [1] Pub. L. No. 111-5, 123 Stat. 115 (Feb. 17, 2009).
  • [2] The State Fiscal Stabilization Fund (SFSF); Title I, Part A of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA), as amended; and Part B of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), as amended.
GAO Contact
portrait of George Scott

George Scott

Director, Education, Workforce, and Income Security

scottg@gao.gov

(202) 512-5932

portrait of of David Trimble

David Trimble

Acting Director, Natural Resources and Environment

trimbled@gao.gov

(202) 512-9338