Recovery Act Recipients Meeting Transparency Requirements

Only 0.5% of stimulus funding recipients fail to submit quarterly reports; they will be aggressively pursued, said Office of Management and Budget director.

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Nearly all recipients of federal funding from the Recovery Act are meeting the goals the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) set for transparency, according to the OMB director.

A full 99.5 percent of organizations receiving money from the act are consistently reporting every quarter how they are using their Recovery Act contract, grant, or loan, according to a White House blog post by OMB director Jeffrey Zients.

However, the federal government is aiming for full reporting compliance, and agencies plan to "aggressively pursue" reporting from the organizations that fail to file, he said.

Congress passed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act in February 2009 to distribute $787 billion as a stimulus plan to aid the United States during the major economic crisis.

As part of a government-wide transparency effort under the Open Government Directive -- and because the act was so hotly debated among lawmakers and controversial with the public -- the White House demanded that recipients of funds report every quarter on how they are using the money. The administration even created a website as a public record to keep track of where the money is going.

Zients acknowledged people were skeptical this level of transparency would work, and said that government watchdogs now recognize that the successful reporting effort is a "significant achievement for open government."

He said that federal agencies will pursue compliance with Recovery Act reporting with recipients who failed to do so, on a case-by-case basis, but will rescind funds or use litigation if necessary.

Only 352 of 74,244 Recovery Act funding recipients failed to report last quarter, with 312 of them -- or 82% -- failing to do so for the first time, which means something as simple as a personnel change or internal miscommunication could have been responsible for the oversight, he said.

In these cases, an agency will send the offender a warning letter and an offer to help ensure the appropriate filing is done the next quarter.

Some of the other cases of non-filing may point to chronic behavior, however, Zients said. Of the 40 others who didn't report last quarter, 32 failed to comply twice, four failed three times, and four others failed four times. These cases may require more serious action, he said.

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