Stimulus Assistance Bill Passes House
State and local governments may soon get some relief in tracking and distributing federal economic stimulus dollars now that the House has passed a bill granting permission to use more of the funding for oversight purposes. The proposal, sponsored by Rep. Edolphus Towns (D-N.Y.), comes as several states have raised concerns about the burden of managing a large infusion of federal cash. But it may prove unnecessary since the Obama administration already plans to do most of what the bill outlines.
Regardless, Towns admitted in a statement today that “Not initially providing funds for state auditors under the Recovery Act was an omission that needed to be rectified. I am extremely pleased that the House voted to approve this important legislation."
The bill requires the Office of Management and Budget to give detailed instructions on how to report jobs data, a tricky and politically sensitive measure of the stimulus plan's success. The administration has already provided some guidance on how to track job creation and will soon release further instructions. OMB also issued updated guidance last week on how state and local governments can obtain federal money for stimulus oversight and auditing purposes.
The bill does however give the states access to the federal supply schedules of the General Services Administration, which has pre-negotiated contracts for stimulus projects. The administration's original stimulus package did not include such access.
Regardless of the bill's apparent redundancy, the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee planst to consider the bill tomorrow. (pdf)
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