Overview of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Recovery Act) was signed into law by President Obama on February 17th, 2009. It is an unprecedented effort to jumpstart our economy, create or save millions of jobs, and put a down payment on addressing long-neglected challenges so our country can thrive in the 21st century. The Act is an extraordinary response to a crisis unlike any since the Great Depression, and includes measures to modernize our nation's infrastructure, enhance energy independence, expand educational opportunities, preserve and improve affordable health care, provide tax relief, and protect those in greatest need.
Implementing the Recovery Act at OSTP
The President and Congress are committed to spending these recovery dollars with an unprecedented level of transparency and accountability so Americans know where their tax dollars are going and how they will be spent. Federal agencies are required to disclose Recovery Act plans, Recovery Act reports, spending information, and performance data on a weekly, monthly, quarterly, and as required basis. Every federal agency must also disclose communications with any person (including, but not limited to, registered and unregistered lobbyists) seeking to exert influence on a Recovery Act general policy, project, application, or applicant. OSTP does not have any Recovery Act stimulus funds, so OSTP’s main role is to ensure transparency of communications about the Recovery Act.
On March 20, 2009, President Obama issued a Memorandum on Ensuring Responsible Spending of Recovery Act Funds, which directs executive departments and agencies to publicly post all communications with registered lobbyists seeking to exert influence on a Recovery Act project, application, or applicant.
On July 24, 2009, the Office of Management and Budget clarified the communication guidelines for executive departments and agencies. All oral communications, initiated by persons outside the Federal government concerning a pending Recovery Act application for funding, are prohibited. There are two exceptions to the guideline: if the oral communication is to ask purely logistical questions or occurs at a widely attended gathering. Examples of logistical questions include: how to apply for Recovery Act funding, how to conform to deadlines, or to which agencies or officials applications or questions should be directed.
All communication with outside persons, about specific Recovery Act projects, applications, or applicants must be documented in writing and, within three days, posted on OSTP’s website. Documentation must include (1) the date and time of the contact, (2) the names of the parties to the conversation, (3) the name of the lobbyist’s client(s), if applicable, (4) a short description of the substance of the conversation, and (5) attachments of any written material prepared by outside participants.
To further the aim of openness and transparency, communication should be documented for all outside contacts, regardless of whether or not they are registered lobbyists.
Recovery Act Disclosures
- Sept. 11, 2009 (.pdf)
Recovery Act Resources
- Official copy of the Recovery Act (pdf)
- List of Federal departments and agencies receiving Recovery Act stimulus funding
- Blog Posting Update on Recovery Act Lobbying Rules: New Limits on Special Interest Influence
- Presidential Memo on the Recovery Act
- OMB Memo on Recovery Act disclosures (pdf)
- Apply or bid for grants, contracts, loans, or loan guarantees