OMB issues initial guidance on American Recovery and Reinvestment Act

Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Director Peter Orszag has sent a pretty detailed memo to all federal departments and agencies involved in the disbursement of funds from the newly-enacted American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). The 62-page memo explains the Obama Administration’s expectations of federal departments and agencies and also offers advice on how to meet the new standards. If you are an organization thinking about applying for some of these resources or a person wondering about transparency and accountability, you’ll want to page through the memo.

According to Director Orszag’s memo:

  • Funds are to be awarded and distributed in a “prompt, fair and reasonable manner;”
  • Use of federal funds is to occur in a transparent manner and the public benefits of the funding are to be reported “clearly, accurately and in a timely manner;”
  • Unnecessary delays and cost overruns are to be avoided;
  • Program goals are to be achieved, including “specific program outcomes and improved results on broader economic indicators.”

The Administration is clearly sensitive to the opponents of the package who argued in Congress that it would not be possible to accurately track how much money was being spent and what results were being achieved (such as how many jobs were either being retained or created). Expect more memos as the federal dollars in the legislation begin to flow to states, counties, cities, contractors and individuals in the weeks and months ahead.

In the meantime, you should also check out Recovery.gov, a clearinghouse for information on the ARRA.

-Steve Francisco

About Steve Francisco

Steve Francisco is the former federal policy analyst for the Minnesota Budget Project.
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