Press Releases

Sen. Warner Successfully Amends Job Legislation to Strengthen Stimulus Accountability Requirements

~ Requires Updated Agency Plans & Quarterly Reports and Puts Teeth in Enforcement of Required Reporting from Recipients ~

Mar 10 2010

WASHINGTON -- U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) successfully amended job creation legislation scheduled for a vote in the Senate later today to include bipartisan amendments that will strengthen the tracking and reporting requirements for recipients of stimulus funds.

Senator Warner’s amendments, co-sponsored by Idaho Republican Sen. Mike Crapo and added to the current legislation with the unanimous consent of the Senate, requires federal agencies to do a much better job of updating and disclosing accountability measures to track the results of investments made through the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act of 2009. The amendment also imposes stiff civil penalties on those recipients who deliberately fail to document and file required reports on their use of stimulus funds.

“Federal agencies could do much more to fine-tune and publicly disclose how they measure the way stimulus funds are being spent, and what the taxpayers are really getting for their investments,” Senator Warner said. “We were promised accountability and transparency when we adopted the Recovery Act last year. Unfortunately, in some cases, we simply are not getting it.”

Senator Warner’s amendments require federal agencies to update and report on stimulus program performance and outcomes by July 1, 2010, and require agencies to report to Congress and the public every quarter on the results of stimulus spending.

“When we adopted the stimulus legislation last spring, we clearly intended for federal agencies to provide taxpayers and members of Congress with reasonable access to clear performance measures and accurate information on the outcome of stimulus spending -- but that has not always been the case so far,” Senator Warner said. “Since much of the stimulus funding still remains in the pipeline, this bipartisan legislation will make sure that we take corrective action now to fix these gaps in program management and public accountability.”

According to the Congressional Budget Office, the federal government has only spent about 18% so far of total Recovery Act funds for economic infrastructure programs such as high-speed rail, broadband deployment and electronic health records. By the end of this fiscal year, CBO expects about 54% of these stimulus funds to have been allocated.

Senator Warner’s legislation instructs federal agencies to act quickly to evaluate and update the performance measurement tools used to gauge the effectiveness of stimulus-related spending by July 30, 2010. By Sept. 30th, federal agencies will be required to begin submitting quarterly reports to Congress and publicly disclose the outcome and results of programs that are funded through the stimulus legislation. Senator Warner’s amendments also explicitly authorize the U.S. Attorney General to pursue civil penalties of up to $250,000 against grant recipients who knowingly and consistently fail to comply with these reporting requirements.

On February 25, 2010, the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board announced that recipients of more than 1,000 stimulus grant awards totaling more than $500 million had failed to file their required reports in the fourth quarter of 2009. Moreover, nearly 40% of non-complying recipients had never submitted the required reports.

“The lack of an enforcement provision denies the American citizens the true picture of how their money is being spent,” said Board Chairman Earl E. Devaney said. Chairman Devaney consistently has endorsed enhanced accountability requirements and reasonable penalties for recipients of stimulus grants that fail to comply with existing reporting requirements.

“When I voted for the stimulus package last spring, it was one of the first and most difficult votes that I had cast as a relatively new member of the Senate,” Senator Warner said during his floor remarks today. “One year later, it is obvious that, in some cases, our expectations of accountability and transparency have not been fully implemented. This bipartisan, commonsense amendment will go a long way toward fixing that.”

As a member of the Senate Budget Committee, Senator Warner serves as chairman of a bipartisan task force that currently is evaluating the performance and effectiveness of selected federal agencies and programs. He also is lead co-sponsor of bipartisan legislation directing the U.S. Department of Treasury to more aggressively measure and disclose the use of funds spent under the 2008 Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP, as well as legislation to establish independent oversight and a defined exit strategy for the federal government’s ownership stake in companies receiving TARP investments.

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