The Recovery Act Blog

  • The Vice President Announces Recovery Act Funds in Detroit

    As we told you yesterday, the President announced $2.4 billion in Recovery Act funds designated for the manufacturing of advanced batteries and electric vehicles. As part of this unprecedented investment, Michigan will receive more than one billion in grants, the most of any state, and the Vice President was in Detroit yesterday to make the announcement. In his remarks, he explained that the United States must build on Detroit's rich past in order for the state's economy, which is dominated by the automobile industry, to recover. The grants are designed to do just that – by spurring innovation, they will create jobs while making Detroit an industry leader in the 21st century.
    (Vice President Joe Biden hugs Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm at an American Recovery and Reinvestment Act event at Next Energy in Detroit, Michigan, Wednesday, August 5, 2009. Official White House Photo by David Lienemann)
    (Vice President Joe Biden speaks in front of several plug-in hybrid vehicles at an American Recovery and Reinvestment Act event at Next Energy in Detroit, Michigan, Wednesday, August 5, 2009. Official White House Photo by David Lienemann)
    (Vice President Joe Biden shakes hands after speaking at an American Recovery and Reinvestment Act event at Next Energy in Detroit, Michigan, Wednesday, August 5, 2009. Official White House Photo by David Lienemann)

  • Recovery in Action: Creating Jobs and Assisting States

    The jobs created by the Recovery Act have received a lot of attention, and rightfully so: similar to previous weeks, thousands of Americans found employment this week thanks to the Recovery Act, in fields ranging from computer technology to weatherization.
    But the Recovery Act isn’t solely focused on creating jobs—it is also providing timely assistance to state and local governments. As outlined in the stories below, funding provided by Recovery Act was crucial to off-setting revenue decreases caused by the economic downturn, enabling state and local governments to keep vital programs running and prevent layoffs:
    Arizona State University, the University of Arizona And Northern Arizona University Benefited From ARRA Revenue That Will "Save Hundreds Of Jobs." "Arizona's three state universities will start receiving $154 million in federal stimulus funds next week. The money won't make up for all the cuts in their state funding, but university officials say the infusion will help save hundreds of jobs. Arizona State, the University of Arizona and Northern Arizona University have struggled amid record cuts in state funding. The national recession has caused state tax revenues to drop sharply and has led to widespread funding cuts to state agencies and schools. The universities saw a 20 percent, or $190 million, reduction in state funding for the 2008-09 school year. All three universities laid off employees during the past school year, eliminated academic programs with low enrollments and boosted some class sizes. While the $154 million in federal stimulus will backfill some of the loss in state funding, the $190 million is a permanent reduction to the university system's budget, so the federal money won't entirely cover the deficit in coming years. Even so, university officials are eager to get the money. NAU President John Haeger said in a statement that the stimulus means, ‘we will not have to endure more draconian cuts to our workforce or reduced programs and services for students.’ He estimates NAU's $23 million share of federal money will save more than 300 jobs and will limit employee furlough days to no more than three."
    Governor Parkinson Dubbed ARRA "Essential To [Kansas]" With Respect To Salvaging State Programs And Addressing Economic Burdens On Citizens. "To spur job creation and ease the pressure on the housing market, Governor Parkinson joined Deputy Treasury Secretary Neal Wolin in announcing the implementation of programs through the Department of the Treasury that will provide billions of dollars in recovery funds throughout the country and in Kansas. ‘The Recovery Act has been essential to our state, not only in terms of balancing the budget without demolishing essential state programs, but it's also been important to Kansans who are struggling to get through this national recession,’ Parkinson said. ‘Osawatomie is a great example of how the Recovery Act is making a difference – in this case, by creating and protecting jobs in construction, and providing affordable housing for our senior citizens. Projects, like Woodland Hills, will help communities across Kansas and the country get back on the road to recovery.’"
    Huge Influx Of Federal Stimulus Money To State And Local Governments More Than Offset A Sharp Drop In Tax Collections, Helping To Put The Brakes On The Nation’s Economic Decline. "A huge influx of federal stimulus money to state and local governments more than offset a sharp drop in tax collections, helping to put the brakes on the nation's economic decline, new government data show. The stimulus funds helped reverse six months of spending declines, pushing state and local government expenditures up 4.8% in the second quarter, reports the Bureau of Economic Analysis. ‘The money has caused a very sharp change in the path of the economy, which had been in steep decline,’ said Chad Stone, chief economist at the liberal Center on Budget and Policy Priorities in Washington, D.C. Federal cash is now the No. 1 revenue source for state and local governments, surpassing sales and property taxes, the government data show. The flood of federal money lifted total revenues by 7.5%, overcoming an 8% drop in tax collections.
    Governor Ted Kulongoski: Recovery Act Money And Resultant Projects Dramatically Aided Many Facets Of Oregon Affected By Downturn, From K-12 To Transportation. "In February, President Obama signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to inject billions of dollars into local economies across the country immediately, and to invest billions more over the next two years as part of a sustained economic recovery strategy. In Oregon, where our unemployment rate ranks among the nation's highest, and our state revenues declined by more than $4 billion in a matter of months, the Recovery Act dollars could not have come at a more critical time. As a result of Recovery Act funding for education, human services and public safety, the state was able to preserve many of these critical services that would otherwise have been cut deeper or eliminated altogether. For example, the Recovery Act provided critical funding for K-12 education during the next two school years. Without that assistance, we would have faced a potential cut of 20 days from the school year, which is not only harmful to our children, but would also mean 20 lost days of work for teachers in Oregon's 198 school districts. The Recovery Act also immediately allocated millions to Oregon for transportation, and we were the first state to have projects identified and contracts awarded, creating jobs immediately and making much-needed improvements to our transportation infrastructure. The state has awarded Recovery Act grants for upgrading drinking water and wastewater treatment facilities around the state, and contracts are starting to be signed for weatherizing the homes of low-income Oregonians — all investments that will sustain and create jobs while also improving our quality of life. And I expect the first wave of energy grants to be announced any day to support energy efficiency and renewable energy projects across the state."
    More Than 2,800 Young People In El Paso Gained Summer Employment Through ARRA Awards To Local Employment And Educational Institutions. "Part of the stimulus package passed by Congress in February is providing summer jobs for more than 2,800 El Paso youths and valuable training that could lead the participants to worthwhile careers, organizers say. The programs, being conducted at El Paso Community College, the University of Texas at El Paso and La Fe, are part of Workforce Solutions Upper Rio Grande's summer youth program, an annual effort. But more than $1.1 million in stimulus money has allowed the agency to expand the scope of the summer jobs program. The areas of study include computers, engineering and health sciences. Participants in the summer jobs program ranged in age from 14 to 24. More than 2,800 youth were certified in the Summer Youth Program in the six-county region served by Upper Rio Grande. Upper Rio Grande pays the students and pays for equipment, which the schools provide the instruction. Thursday, more than 20 students, ages 14 to 17, were installing new software on computers they had built themselves at El Paso Community College Valle Verde Campus. A total of 44 students selected by Upper Rio Grande are learning computer skills in an eight-week program, which instructors said will give them the knowledge and skills to take the A-plus certification examination for entry-level computer technicians."
    Approximately 7,000 Washington Homes Will Be Weatherized Using ARRA Funds. "Five months after congressional approval, about $23 million in federal weatherization money is finally flowing across the state, putting theoretical plans for economic stimulus into elbow-grease practice. The goal is multipronged: Make low-income homes more energy-efficient, provide and retain ‘green’ jobs and help resuscitate a gasping economy. When the second wave of federal money arrives next year, almost $60 million in weatherization money will have been spread around Washington. State weatherization director Steve Payne expects about 7,000 dwellings will be updated. Two weeks ago, the state Commerce Department, where he works as managing director of Housing Improvements and Preservation, began authorizing 26 housing agencies around the state to manage local work. Seattle's weatherization program, called HomeWise and operated by the city Office of Housing, is receiving about $2.4 million in stimulus money this year. That extra money about doubles what the agency usually spends on weatherization annually. The HomeWise staff estimates the new money will help make an additional 1,000 homes more energy-efficient. The King County Housing Authority will receive about $2.6 million in stimulus money for weatherization this year, while Snohomish County will get $1.4 million."

  • Recovery Act Funds to Support Law Enforcement

    "These Recovery funds are essential in helping local law enforcement agencies fulfill their mission of making the places in which we all live and work as safe as possible, "Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey explained at today’s event, where the Vice President and Attorney General Eric Holder announced a major commitment to aid our law enforcement officials who work tirelessly to defend our communities.
    (Vice President Joe Biden announces new COPS funding at an event in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Tuesday, July 28, 2009. Official White House Photo by David Lienemann)
    The Recovery Act is providing $1 billion in grants to fund the hiring and rehiring of law enforcement officers in all 50 states. The grants will be awarded to 1,046 agencies across the country, and will provide 100 percent of the salary and benefits for 4,699 officers for three years. The Vice President explained that these Recovery Act funds will not only save and create jobs, but will also help build safer communities as we move forward:
    A big part of the Recovery Act is about building communities – making them as strong as they can be, allowing every American family to live a better life than the one they are leading now. And we can’t achieve the goal of stronger communities without supporting those who keep our streets safe.
    The Recovery Act grants will be administered by the U.S. Department of Justice Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS). The Department of Justice received over 7,200 requests for the grants. Attorney General Holder explained how grant recipients were chosen:
    And these officers will go directly to the places they are needed most. These funds are focused on hiring officers who will be on the streets, in our neighborhoods, and on the front lines of our fight to keep the American people safe. And let us not forget: keeping brave and well-trained police officers employed is also good for our economy. These grants not only represent 4,699 men and women across our country fighting crime, but also 4,699 men and women who will be able to make house and car payments, make ends meet, and save for their children’s future.
    Of course, with such an incredible program, it’s no surprise that the number of grant requests was overwhelming. We received applications from more than 7,000 cities and towns, and made funding decisions based on crime rate, financial need, and community policing activities. The thousands of applications that poured in are indicative of both the tough times our states, cities and tribes are facing and the unyielding commitment by law enforcement to making our communities safer. I’m proud to be a part of an administration that backs up the commitment of our law enforcement community not just with words, but with the resources our partners need.

  • Closing Lobbyist Loopholes

    Cross-posted from the OMB blog.
    The President believes that a piece of legislation as important as the Recovery Act must be implemented with an unprecedented degree of transparency. That is why, in March, he imposed substantial limits on lobbyists in their communications with the Federal government about the Recovery Act. He also ordered OMB to evaluate agencies’ actual experiences with the restrictions in the first 60 days and then recommend whether any modifications were needed. That review resulted in a decision to tighten the restrictions and, on Friday, OMB updated the formal guidance on Recovery Act communications with lobbyists.
    We continue to demand unprecedented transparency for lobbyist contacts and, for the first time in history, we now are bringing transparency to the world of unregistered lobbyists – CEOs and others with special access who would contact an agency or department about their interest in Recovery funding. By expanding the restrictions on oral communications to apply to everybody who tries to exert influence on Recovery Act competitive funding decisions, we reinforce merit-based decision-making and transparency. Tough lines also need to be bright lines, so everyone can understand them. That’s why the updated approach focuses these restrictions on oral communications after formal applications for competitive funding have been filed and before the funds are awarded.
    Contacts by registered lobbyists prior to the filing of a formal application remain subject to the previously announced restrictions, which require rapid Internet disclosure of the contact. These rules are by far the toughest ever and go well beyond the minimum disclosures previously required by law. To make that disclosure more consistent, the White House shortly will provide departments and agencies with a new technology tool – so that thorough reporting and information standards will be easily accessible for anyone to see.
    Peter R. Orszag is Director of the Office of Management and Budget 

  • Recovery in Action: Re-training Auto Workers and Creating Jobs

    Recovery Act funds continued to roll out this week, financing the re-training of displaced automotive workers and creating jobs across the country. In Missouri, the Executive Director of the White House Council on Auto Communities and Workers announced the availability of $25 million to re-train former automotive workers:
    "America’s auto workers have sacrificed so much during this economic downturn, and it’s our responsibility to stand with them during these difficult times. These grants help those workers who have been displaced learn new skills in these high growth and emerging industries and get support in finding where these new jobs are."
    This week has also seen the beginning of dozens of projects funded by the Recovery Act that not only create jobs, but help make us a stronger country in the long haul. As detailed in the following press clips, Americans young and old are finding employment thanks to the Recovery Act doing work ranging from helping the elderly to contributing to the creation of a new clean energy economy:
    Students employed by Helping Hands "A nonprofit organization that has had to cut back in these economic times received help improving client services, thanks to the federal stimulus. Greater Foothills Helping Hands, which provides volunteers to perform domestic chores for the elderly and disabled, received a hand up this summer when Arizona Western College in conjunction with Yuma Private Industry Council provided employment for 80 Yuma high school students, through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). Judy Arnold, Helping Hands executive director, said the students did a phenomenal job with yard work and it was a total blessing to have them. ‘A lot of our care receivers can't afford this,’ Arnold said. ‘The work wouldn't have gotten done if it wasn't for the students.’ For the previous two weeks, two teams of 40 students each split up into crews of 10 and were dispatched to Foothills residents too frail to accomplish yard work on their own. Some of the tasks must be done to comply with city ordinances and students save residents not only work but possible fines, Rudy Rodriguez, AWC's ARRA coordinator, said. . . . Evarist Santiago, 17, a Vista High School senior, said he enjoys arranging help for the elderly to move furniture, schedule rides for doctor appointments or grocery shopping but also doing data entry of care receivers' birthdays so Helping Hands can remember them on that special day.   ‘I'd recommend ARRA to other students because I learned a lot here. I haven't got a job for the fall but an office job would be a good one to have.’ Arnold noted students were considerate and willing to help. ‘I think the program was such a positive plus for everyone involved. We're certainly thankful we're able to have them participate.’"
    Youth workforce program: Teens work at Norfolk School during summer "When students return to Norfork School in August, they'll find it extra shiny and clean thanks to seven of their schoolmates. As part of the Arkansas Summer Youth Workforce program, Ethan Barnes, Megan Cain, Dalton Davis and Anthony King, all 17, Wade Staton and Chase Loosey, 16, and Lindsay Teegarden, 15, are each putting in 200 hours this summer helping to move library books, furniture and school supplies, and helping custodians clean every surface. Barnes has painted miles of baseboards and door trim. ‘He's an excellent painter,’ said Norfork High School Principal Bobby Hulse. ‘You won't find a smudge anywhere.’ The program, previously part of the Jobs Training Partnership Act and the Comprehensive Employment and Training Act, received a boost in funding this year from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, according to Tina Hopkins, employment and training adviser at the Arkansas Workforce Center in Mountain Home. ‘In previous years, we've had 30 to 40 participants in Baxter and Marion counties,’ Hopkins said. ‘This year, because of stimulus dollars, we increased the eligibility age to 24, and we have 80 participants.’ Hopkins, 29, asks each applicant what job they would like if they could have any job at all. Two girls expressed interest in hair. Hopkins found one of the girls a job at a beauty school. The other is working in a salon."
    Colorado gets $19.6 million stimulus "With the approval of Colorado's plan for renewable-energy and efficiency projects, the state is receiving $19.6 million in federal economic-stimulus money.  The funding, announced Monday by the U.S. Department of Energy, is part of a total of $49 million for energy projects Colorado is eligible for under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.  ‘What we are trying to do is not just one-time projects,’ said Todd Hartman, spokesman for the Governor's Energy Office. ‘We want to use the funds to build up infrastructure for energy efficiency and renewables.’  The programs include financial incentives to builders to promote energy efficiency in new-home construction and to homeowners for energy efficiency in existing homes.  Another program would provide increased rebates for installing solar and wind systems.  There is also a revolving loan program and a financing program to help with business and residential energy investment.  ‘It's a very innovative plan,’ said Howard Geller, executive director of the Southwest Energy Efficiency Project, a nonprofit energy-advocacy group based in Boulder."
    State has $15 million in federal funds to help small manufacturers diversify"The state has $15 million in federal stimulus funds to help small Michigan manufacturing companies diversify into renewable energy technologies.  The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding, announced Monday by Gov. Jennifer Granholm, targets investments in advanced manufacturing of renewable energy systems and wind turbine systems, solar technologies, bio-energy equipment and geothermal heating and cooling systems.  The goal of the funding is to create new markets for Michigan manufacturers, provide support to renewable energy original equipment manufacturers and tier-one suppliers, and create anchor companies that attract other businesses to Michigan.  The state plans to award grants, loans, or a combination of the two, according to a request for proposals issued by the Michigan Department of Energy, Labor & Economic Growth's Bureau of Energy Systems.  For-profit manufacturing businesses located in Michigan with 500 or fewer full-time or equivalent employees are eligible. A business that relocates to Michigan by the time of an award also will be considered eligible.  The RFP says preference will be given to companies that demonstrate a 50 percent cost share of the total allowable project costs, although cost sharing is not applicable to companies that are approved to receive a revolving loan."
    Stimulus funding helps teenagers land jobs "The heat was a bit of a surprise Monday afternoon. The sun isn’t blaring, but the humidity was enough to make anyone working outside wince. Cody Shoe maneuvered a riding lawnmower in the muggy air. He was grooming the campus of Stanly Community College. Shoe’s been on the job for about four weeks. ‘It seems like an easy job until you really get in there and do it and then you realize how difficult these people have it,’ Shoe said. Shoe is one of 40 Stanly County teenagers working this summer because of funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, better known as the stimulus package. More than $1 billion was set aside from the package to be invested in youth employment. North Carolina is getting about $25 million of the money and Stanly County received $40,000. Those funds will pay for 40 teenagers to work 20 hours a week for six weeks at $7.25 an hour. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor statistics released in June, the country is experiencing the lowest rate of young men ages 16 to 19 working since 1948. That worries community leaders like David Dutton, who knows hands-on work experience is what helps young people land jobs. ‘When you talk to these young people you will discover, they're not working to buy toys, they're not working to buy things of that nature. Almost every youth that I've talked to is working to help their family,’ said Dutton who runs the Resource Development Center. His organization is handling the Stanly County youth employment stimulus funds. Dutton matched the teens with companies and jobs. Shoe will be a senior this fall. He’s attending Stanly Early College, which will help him get his associate’s degree by the end of next year for free. The teenager juggles school, work and caring for siblings to help out his parents."
    Stimulus money goes to workforce development "The Southern Alleghenies Workforce Investment Board has received more than $3.7 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding to enhance and expand its existing support of workforce development services throughout Bedford, Blair, Cambria, Fulton, Huntingdon and Somerset counties. The money is being directed toward paid summer work for youth ages 14 to 24, financial support in the form of tuition assistance and supportive services for eligible adults and displaced workers. Investment board Director Susan Whisler said the board's goal is to direct the funds to help those most in need of workforce-related assistance. ‘Our goal is to offer an outstanding paid work experience program to over 400 young people this summer; quadruple the number we normally serve each year,’ Whisler said in a prepared statement. ‘We can provide up to $10,000 to help offset the cost of training for eligible individuals, and we can also provide assistance with childcare and transportation for those in training.’"

  • Recovery Act - Webinar Training Materials

    Yesterday, OMB and the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board kicked off a four-day, seven-webinar training series to help show Recovery Act recipients just how to comply with the Act’s transparency guidelines. We recently posted the audio recordings from yesterday’s webinars at:
    The powerpoint presentations and audio of all the webinars will be made available on this page over the course of the week.  So check back often to download the materials you need to help make Recovery Act spending as transparent as possible.