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Eye Opener: Economic Stimulus Progress Report

By Ed O'Keefe



The most visible sign of the economic stimulus progress? Road signs. (Photo by Post)

Eye Opener

Happy Wednesday! It appears that a good chunk of economic stimulus funding is going right into the nation's roads, according to a GAO update set for release today about the massive government spending project.

The Congressional auditing agency must deliver a bi-monthly stimulus progress report and is tracking the 16 largest states and the District of Columbia, which account for roughly 65 percent of
the U.S. population and about two- thirds of the federal funding. The new report comes as President Obama defended his economic recovery plan yesterday while in Russia. Senior Democrats on Capitol Hill are also nervously contemplating whether additional government stimulus spending may be needed to pull the nation out of the worst recession since the 1930s.

GAO estimates that the Treasury Department has paid out approximately $29 billion to states and cities so far this year, about 60 percent of payments estimated for fiscal year 2009, which ends Sept. 30.

Of that total, most of the funds paid out to states have come from increased Medicare and Education Department grants to state governments.

But the most visible demonstration of stimulus funding is on American roads. As of June 25, the Transportation Department had paid out $15.9 billion for more than 5,000 projects nationwide. Most of that money has been put towards road reconstruction and pavement projects.

"Many state officials told us they selected a large percentage of resurfacing and other pavement improvement projects because they did not require extensive environmental clearances, were quick to design, could be quickly obligated and bid, could employ people
quickly, and could be completed within three years," according to the report.

The report raises concerns about how states and the federal governments will report back on how the stimulus money is spent. The Office of Management and Budget has provided some guidance on how to report the information, but auditors suggest that the states will require more information. The report also commends House lawmakers for passing a bill that would provide the states more federal funding for their administrative and auditing costs associated with quickly doling out billions of dollars.

Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

Twitter Must-Follows: Speaking of the GAO, it has launched two Twitter feeds: @usgao and @usgaolegal. Though hundreds of government agencies are now using the 140-character service (NextGov smartly compiled a terrific federal Twitter list), it's worth following GAO's feeds because the agency produces so much useful material of interest, as demonstrated by the report above and The Eye's reporting on security at federal buildings. ALSO: Check out GovFresh.com's "25 Must-Follow Gov 2.0 Heroes on Twitter." Maybe one day The Eye will earn such recognition... (sniffle)...

In other federal news...

Government Agencies, Post Targeted in Cyberattack: The attack has been widespread and coordinated during the past few days, targeting sites operated by the departments of Homeland Security and Defense, the Federal Aviation Administration and the Federal Trade Commission.

Treasury Works on 'Plan C' To Fend Off Lingering Threats: The department has assembled a team to examine what could yet bring it down and has identified several trouble spots that could threaten the still-fragile lending industry.

Overhaul of Food Safety Rules in the Works: The new proposals, recommended by a working group that President Obama created in March, emphasize prevention, enforcement and improving the government's response time to such incidents.

Task Force to Recommend Overhaul of U.S. Immigration System: The bipartisan group will say today that the country should end strict quotas on work-based immigrant visas to maintain its scientific, technological and military edge. The report comes as President Obama and Congressional Democrats say they expect to begin debate on a comprehensive immigration plan within a year.

A Warning About Disaster Housing: Authorities remain unable to provide emergency housing after large-scale catastrophes and must do more to prepare survivors of such disasters for permanent relocation, the Department of Homeland Security inspector general is expected to tell a House panel today.

House to DHS: We'll Tell You What to Do: Try as it might, the Department of Homeland Security can’t get no respect on the floor of the House. In the parlance of Vietnam, it’s a “kill zone” for management.

Indefinite Detentions Are Backed: Guantanamo Bay detainees who are acquitted by civil or military courts may still be imprisoned indefinitely if the government determines that they pose a national security threat, the Defense Department's chief lawyer said yesterday.

An Agency in Need of AID: Six months into the Obama administration, the Agency for International Development, though deeply troubled and adrift, now finds itself without a single top job filled by an Obama appointee. This is not a question of a couple of senior folks being "home alone." We're talking a virtual haunted house.

Leaders Who Succeeded -- and Those Who Didn't: A new report out today assesses why some agency leaders fail. Successful leaders "manage within their organization, not just at the 50,000-foot level," the report says. "Leaders who didn't achieve their goals spent just one-quarter of their time internally."

Boost in Food-Stamp Funding Percolates Through Economy: The Agriculture Department calculates that for every $5 of food-stamp spending, there is $9.20 of total economic activity, as grocers and farmers pay their employees and suppliers, who in turn shop and pay their bills.

Senate Panel Approves Advance Funding for VA Programs: The bill would finance health care programs for the next two years in case Congress fails to pass a 2011 VA spending bill by the start of that fiscal year. If passed, this would be the first time that Congress passes a two-year spending bill for VA.

GAO: Costs of Coast Guard Modernization to Soar By $2 Billion: Stephen Caldwell, director of GAO's Homeland Security and Justice Issues department, told the Senate Commerce Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries and Coast Guard Subcommittee there might be further "cost growth" beyond the new $26.3 billion estimate.

By Ed O'Keefe  | July 8, 2009; 6:15 AM ET
Categories:  Eye Opener  
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Next: GAO: Federal Protective Service 'In Crisis'

Comments

Mr. Obama, please direct some of those stimulus dollars to improving Metro with more cars and a third and fourth track.

Posted by: anarcho-liberal-tarian | July 8, 2009 9:44 AM | Report abuse

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