Keeping a Close Eye on Recovery Act Dollars

From the beginning, the President and Vice President have demanded an unprecedented level of accountability and transparency from recipients of Recovery Act funds.  Tens of thousands of recipients are required to report in every quarter on how exactly they are putting their Recovery Act contract, grant or loan to work -- and those reports are posted in full public view on  You can see them for yourself HERE.  This is a pioneering transparency effort and, while there may have been some initial skepticism that it could be pulled off, last quarter nearly 100 percent of recipients required to report did so.  This unprecedented level of disclosure has been lauded by government watchdogs and transparency groups as a significant achievement for open government.

Now, it would be easy to rest on this accomplishment of near 100 percent participation, but frankly, we’re not satisfied -- we believe that everyone that is required to share with the public how they are putting Recovery dollars to work should be doing so.  That’s why Federal agencies have been charged with aggressively pursuing the .5 percent of cases where recipients have failed to file. 

But each case is a little bit different --  and that’s why agencies have been empowered to pursue them with action ranging from an initial warning letter to withholding or rescinding of funds and even litigation, if it becomes necessary.  Here is how it breaks down:

  • Of the 74,244 prime recipients required to file last quarter, just 352 failed to file a report last quarter -- that’s 99.5 percent participation. 

  • Of the 352 who failed to file, 89 percent of them -- or 312 -- were first-time non-reporters.  Often one-time non-filers have technical problems reporting, so the relevant agency contacts them with a warning letter that also offers the necessary technical or other assistance.  Other cases of first-time non-reporting have been as simple as internal company or organization miscommunication or personnel changes.  In the vast majority of these cases, the recipient simply resolves their internal technical or staffing issue and files the next quarter.

  • Of the remaining 40 non-reporters, 32 failed to comply twice, 4 failed to comply three times, and 4 failed to comply four times.  Each of these cases is aggressively pursued by the relevant agency with punitive action ranging from withholding or rescinding funds to litigation, if necessary.  You can take a look at the action being taken in each of these 40 cases HERE . We take these cases seriously, but overall, they represent .1 percent of Recovery Act recipients and involve less than .001 percent of total Recovery Act funding.

Changing the way business is done in Washington doesn’t happen overnight -- we are constantly working to improve transparency processes and help recipients of Recovery Act funds adjust to meet our high standards.  But we agree with government watchdogs that the unprecedented level of transparency provided with the Recovery Act over the last year-and-a-half has been a meaningful step in the right direction.

Your Federal Tax Receipt