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American Recovery and Reinvestment Act

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Guest Kesha Rogers for Congress

Instead of moving boldly, like Franklin D. Roosevelt, to punish Wall Street firms which have bankrupted the nation while pursuing ever greater income and bonuses for themselves, President Obama has continued the Bush administration policy of bailing them out – unlimited funds for Wall St., nothing for the growing numbers of unemployed, homeless, and increasingly desperate Americans.

 

http://www.keshaforcongress.com/

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Guest Michael Baum

The U.S. Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) today awarded more than $123 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act grants to support the construction of new scientific research facilities at 11 universities and one non-profit research organization.

 

With ultimate research targets ranging from off-shore wind power and coral reef ecology to quantum physics and nanotechnology, the 12 projects will launch more than $250 million in new laboratory construction projects beginning early this year.

 

“These awards will create jobs by helping to fund 12 major, shovel-ready construction projects,” U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke said. “These new, state-of-the-art facilities will help keep the United States at the forefront of scientific and technological innovation and will support economic growth.”

 

The 12 construction project awards, the result of a competition announced by NIST last May, include:

 

*

 

$15 million to the University of Pittsburgh (Pittsburgh, Pa.) for new laboratories for nanoscience and experimental physics,

*

 

$15 million to Nova Southeastern University Inc. (Fort Lauderdale-Davis, Fla.) for a Center of Excellence for Coral Reef Ecosystem Science research facility,

*

 

$12.4 million to the University of Maine (Orono, Me.) for an Advanced Nanocomposites in Renewable Energy Laboratory,

*

 

$12.3 million to the University of Kansas Center for Research (Lawrence, Kan.) for the new Measurement, Materials and Sustainable Environment Center (M2SEC),

*

 

$11.8 million to the University of Kentucky (Lexington, Ky.) for an expansion of the Center for Applied Energy Research Laboratory,

*

 

$11.8 million to Purdue University (West Lafayette, Ind.) for a Center for High Performance Buildings at the Ray W. Herrick Laboratories,

*

 

$11.6 million to the Georgia Tech Research Corporation (Atlanta, Ga.) for a pilot-scale laboratory for carbon-neutral energy solutions,

*

 

$10.3 million to the University of Maryland (College Park, Md.) for a laboratory for advanced quantum science in the school’s new Physical Sciences Complex,

*

 

$8.1 million to the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (Barnstable, Mass.) for the Laboratory for Ocean Sensors and Observing Systems (LOSOS),

*

 

$6.9 million to the University of Nebraska – Lincoln (Lincoln, Neb.) for a nanoscience metrology facility,

*

 

$6.9 million to Georgetown University (Washington, D.C.) for The Institute for Soft Matter Synthesis and Metrology, and

*

 

$1.4 million to Columbia University (New York, N.Y.) for an ultraclean geochemistry laboratory at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory.

 

In addition to satisfying the core objectives of the Recovery Act—creating and saving jobs and investment in infrastructure that will provide long-term economic benefits—the projects were chosen on the basis of the scientific and technical merit of the proposals, the need for federal funding, design quality and suitability for the intended purpose, and the strength of the project-management plan.

 

The new facilities also support research goals of the Commerce Department, NIST and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), including the study of advanced materials, coral reefs, hurricanes, quantum physics, nanoscience and metrology.

 

As a non-regulatory agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce, NIST promotes U.S. innovation and industrial competitiveness by advancing measurement science, standards and technology in ways that enhance economic security and improve our quality of life.

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Guest Lee Tune

The Laboratory for Advanced Quantum Science at the Physical Sciences Complex

 

University of Maryland (College Park, Md.)

NIST Construction Grant Program Award: $10.3 million

Total project budget: $15.5 million

 

The Laboratory for Advanced Quantum Science (LAQS) will be a 21,000-square-foot (1,951-square-meter) underground laboratory space incorporated in the planned Physical Sciences Complex to be built at the University of Maryland at College Park. Designed specifically for the needs of research at the frontiers of quantum science, the LAQS will feature environmental controls for clean air, low vibration and electromagnetic interference, and stable temperature and humidity, on a par with the Advanced Measurement Laboratory at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

 

The laboratory will primarily support the work of the Joint Quantum Institute, a collaboration of NIST, the University of Maryland and the National Security Agency's Laboratory for Physical Sciences, which studies phenomena in atomic, molecular and optical physics, condensed matter physics and quantum information. Quantum science contributes to our basic understanding of the universe, but also can fundamentally affect such practical issues as cryptography, advanced computing, and the design and use of sensors based on new technologies. Modern quantum science requires exquisite control of the research space—the lasers, for example, often must be physically stabilized to restrict motion from vibration or thermal expansion to less than a few nanometers. The LAQS has been designed to meet these exacting specifications.

 

Construction of the Physical Sciences Complex, including the LAQS, is expected to be completed by spring 2013.

 

For further information:

Lee Tune

University of Maryland

(301) 405-4679

ltune@umd.edu

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Guest Cathy St. Denis

Reaching a major milestone in creating jobs and improving the nation’s infrastructure, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced that as of December 28, the Federal Highway Administration has approved 10,000 highway projects funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) since its passage in February.

 

“What better way to cap off the year than with 10,000 highway and bridge projects putting people back to work, strengthening the economy, and making travel safer for everyone,” said Secretary LaHood.

 

Of the $26.6 billion available for highway projects through the Recovery Act, $21.8 billion has been obligated to 10,000 projects nationwide – of which 6,092 highway projects are underway. This money is helping employ tens of thousands of men and women and significantly improving more than 27,000 miles of roads and bridges.

 

“Highway projects are moving forward across the country,” said FHWA Administrator Victor Mendez. “Thanks to the Recovery Act, drivers, pedestrians, and cyclists will see significantly improved roadways in 2010.”

 

Construction on some of the nation’s largest infrastructure projects is just beginning, such as the Caldecott Tunnel in San Francisco, which is set to start construction in early January. At $257 million, this project, which relies on $192.4 million in ARRA funds, is one of the largest ARRA projects in the nation. Several other major projects have recently begun construction, including:

 

* I-215 Widening Project in San Bernardino and I-405 Widening in Los Angeles. During the summer, work began on two billion-dollar projects in California – the I-215 Widening Project in San Bernardino, which is using $128 million in ARRA funds to reduce traffic congestion that had been crippling the local economy, and the other using $189.9 million in ARRA funds to add 10 miles of carpool lane on Los Angeles’ northbound I-405, one of the most congested routes in the nation. Both projects are expected to continue through 2013.

 

* US19/SR 55 Interchange reconstruction in Clearwater, Fla. Construction on this $109 million project began in early December. Expected to be completed in July 2014, it will reduce congestion by building two new interchanges, removing numerous traffic signals, and creating 12 miles of uninterrupted travel for the route’s estimated 89,500 daily drivers. The $45 million in ARRA funding made it possible to begin this project two years earlier than originally planned.

 

* I-405 “Braids” in Bellevue, Wash. In November, construction began on this $278.6 million project to help a Seattle suburb with traffic congestion of up to eight hours daily. The project will “braid” multi-level ramps to separate vehicles entering and exiting northbound I-405, add a bypass lane for eastbound traffic, and improve access from downtown Bellevue. When completed in late 2012, the project will reduce congestion, improve safety for drivers, and enhance pedestrian and bicycle access. The $30 million in ARRA funding helped this project start a year earlier than planned.

 

To date, the DOT has approved more than 11,300 transportation projects, worth $32.1 billion in Recovery Act funding, of which 7,600 projects are currently underway. In January, the DOT is set to announce $8 billion in grants for high-speed rail and $1.5 billion under the TIGER Discretionary Grants program, which will spur job creation as major national projects get underway.

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Guest White House Press
I think if you look through and analyze some of the numbers, there are some bright spots which I think are at least encouraging, understanding that there are, as I said, millions of people that have lost their jobs and are hurting. If you take the average of what we were losing in the first quarter of 2009 -- January, February, March -- we were losing on average in those months 691,000 jobs a month.

 

If you take the average of what we’re losing the last three months of the year -- October, November and December -- that number is 69,000, one-tenth of that job loss. So that trend obviously is moving in the right direction. - White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, 1/8/2010

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Guest JT

Does the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act require products purchased to be MADE IN THE USA

or can they be purchased from an American company but made in China?

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Guest Human

Jt the answer is? You can get it from china.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Does the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act require products purchased to be MADE IN THE USA

or can they be purchased from an American company but made in China?

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Guest JT

Jt the answer is? You can get it from china.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

HOW WRONG THIS THAT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Our people need work..........

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Guest JT

HOW WRONG THIS THAT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Our people need work..........

 

WHITE HOUSE shouldn't this be changed?

 

China's delivered price is what I can purchase the raw materials for......................HOW WRONG IS THAT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! REQUIRE "MADE IN THE USA".

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Guest Human

If you are relying on the democrats Jt? Then you are in DEEP TROUBLE. You have seen what I am capable of posting in here, and I aint no democrat.

 

Don't get me wrong, there is a role for government in business, but not to the point of strangling business which this administration is doing a pretty good job of doing.

 

Right now we are in a government bubble, and it will burst eventually, and then what is your side going to do about it?

 

Do it the democrat way, and you will watch this economy go straight down the tubes.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

HOW WRONG IS THAT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Our people need work..........

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Guest Human

One last thing JT, The reinvestment act was passed, There is no way it can be changed now.

My group "the Republicans" simply don't have the votes for it, and your group "the Democrats" will not touch it.

 

Forget it.

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Guest LAW

Oversight and Government Reform Committee Ranking Member Darrell Issa today released a letter from Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board Chairman Earl Devaney announcing that Recovery.gov will now report jobs funded rather than “jobs created or saved” on the Administration’s official site counting jobs attributed to the stimulus.

 

Explaining the change, Chairman Devaney wrote:

 

"Finally, it is important to note that, from an Inspector General’s perspective, the ability to audit jobs funded with Recovery Act money is considerably easier that auditing the more subjective ‘jobs created or saved.’ Recovery.gov will be changed to indicate that the jobs reported by recipients during this most recent reporting period reflect jobs that were funded by the Recovery Act between October 1 and December 31, 2009. We will also include information on Recovery.gov that will explain how job estimates were calculated in the first reporting period and how they were calculated in the second reporting period."

 

Following this change in stimulus counting, White House Advisors appeared confused and offered conflicting claims that the stimulus has done more than run up the deficit and trade private sector jobs for government jobs.

 

Said White House Senior Advisor David Axelrod today on CNN’s State of the Union:

 

“Now, the Recovery Act the president passed has created more than — or saved more than 2 million jobs. But against 7 million, you know, that — that is — it is cold comfort to those who still are looking.”

 

Said White House Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett today on NBC’s Meet the Press:

 

“The Recovery Act saved thousands and thousands of jobs. There are schoolteachers and firemen and— and— teachers all across our country, policemen, who have jobs today because of that recovery act.”

 

Said White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs today on Fox News Sunday:

 

“Just last quarter, we finally saw the first positive economic job growth in more than a year. Largely as a result of the recovery plan that's put money back into our economy that saved or created 1.5 million jobs.”

 

Said Rep. Issa in response:

 

“Even though the unemployment rate is 10%, over 2.8 million Americans have lost their job since passage of the stimulus, and the stimulus watchdog has given up on trying to count jobs ‘created or saved,’ the White House continues to press claims about the impact of the stimulus that are at odds with reality. These senior advisors wrongly push the discredited economic theory that government can replace the role of small business in creating new jobs. To stop job losses, this Administration needs to stop the threat of policies like a national energy tax and government health care take over that scare private sector employers away from expanding their businesses and hiring new employees.”

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Guest ALWAYSRED

THANK YOU LAW. I DID NOT THINK YOU WOULD POST SOMETHING LIKE THIS. LET ME TAKE THIS FURTHER.

 

ISSA JUST CAUGHT PRESIDENT OBAMA GIVE A SWEETHEART $25 MILLION CONTRACT TO HIS CAMPAIGN CONTRIBUTOR.

 

 

 

Checchi Awarded Task Order in Kosovo

 

Checchi is pleased to announce that it has been awarded a task order under the USAID Rule of Law IQC to implement the Systems for Enforcing Agreements and Decisions (SEAD) Program in Kosovo.

 

Since achieving independence in 2008, Kosovo has faced the challenge of establishing a system for enforcing legal agreements and courtdecisions that are necessary to stimulate economic growth and promote foreign investment. In implementing the SEAD Program, Checchi will work with local institutions to address these challenges through the introduction of stronger enforcement and dispute resolution mechanisms.Program components focus on promoting the acceptance and use of standardized contracts and binding obligations in commercial transactions, streamlining procedures for the enforcement of judgments,and developing an effective system for alternative dispute resolution in Kosovo that is consistent with international standards.

 

http://www.checchico...&id=42&Itemid=3

 

Checchi and Company Consulting, Inc.

1899 L St, NW, Suite 800

Washington, DC 20036

 

Phone: 202-452-9700

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Guest Human

ALWAYSRED before you trust so fast; Remember something called "DAMAGE CONTROLL". It's in one owns' words whether they are being true or not.

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Guest singray

The American people haven't figured it out yet but there is a double standard. You see when Democrats do things it is only for the good of the country. But as you all know when Republicans do things it is only for their own good. At least according to the Democratic field manual.

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Guest DurhamDoug

I am just happy North Carolina will be recipient of $520 Million in federal funds to pay for improvements of our rail infrastructure between Raleigh and Charlotte.

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Guest Tea Party

Senator Chuck Grassley is following up on the response he received from the Director of the White House Office of Management and Budget with questions about what the response left unanswered. Grassley asked about new information related to the lack of reporting requirements for recipients of federal economic stimulus dollars, the apparent lack of procedures for preventing the award of stimulus funds to ineligible recipients, and how recipients who received funds without asking were selected.

 

 

“I appreciate how quickly Director Orzsag responded to my first letter. The reach of this $787 billion program is enormous, so every effort needs to be made to account for the tax dollars that are spent. Transparency is a key element of accounting for the expenditures and determining the success of the effort,” Grassley said. “I’ll keep asking questions and working to shed light on where the money is going.”

 

February 3, 2010

 

 

 

The Honorable Peter R. Orszag

 

Director

 

Office of Management and Budget

 

Eisenhower Executive Building

 

1650 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW

 

Washington, DC 20503

 

 

 

Dear Director Orszag:

 

 

 

Thank you for your prompt response to my recent letter on the stimulus program. As the federal government moves forward with this unprecedented federal spending, continuous dialogue between the executive and legislative branches is critical to ensure taxpayer dollars are spent in a transparent and accountable manner. Throughout my career in Congress, I have believed I have an obligation to oversee how our government conducts the people’s business and spends their money. I have worked to fulfill this obligation through both Republican and Democratic administrations.

 

 

 

As Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Finance, I conduct oversight of federal health care spending, including the Medicare program. In this one program alone, taxpayers are bilked out of at least $60 billion every year through fraud, waste, and abuse. So you can understand my consternation over the Administration’s efforts to spend more dollars in a shorter period of time than we have seen in our nation’s history. Administration officials, as well as others, have predicted no less than $55 billion dollars in Recovery Act money will be lost to waste, fraud, and abuse. I think this is being optimistic.

 

 

 

Although I appreciate your prompt response to my earlier letter and the effort that it took to prepare it, I find that too many questions remain unanswered and the reliance on future plans and guidance to correct current problems is, at best, misguided. Let me provide you with a few examples.

 

 

 

While it is true that “OMB’s guidance requires Recovery Act grant recipients to begin reporting as soon as an award is issued,” all too often this is not the case. It is also true that “Recovery Act contract recipients are required to begin reporting as soon they invoice for the first time, which occurs before any funds reach them.” But, again, this is not always the case. Too often, recipients fail to report because they understand that they are unlikely to be penalized.

 

 

 

After reading your response, I continue to have concerns. Therefore, I reached out to the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board (RAT Board), which advised me that about 1,500 ARRA recipients have failed to file for two quarters, and that more than 2,000 ARRA recipients who filed for the first quarter failed to file in the second quarter. And then there are those ARRA recipients who were not required to file during the first quarter; but were required to file during the second quarter and failed to do so. That’s more than 3,500 recipients of ARRA money who are not following the rules. Perhaps they have little incentive to do so.

 

 

 

As the Chair of the RAT Board testified late last year, there are a “considerable number of recipients who” do not report to the Recovery Act because it “prescribes no penalties for failure to report.” Perhaps even more important is the fact that the Administration currently does not require that agencies take any punitive action(s) against ARRA recipients who fail to file; rather it provides the agencies with discretion as to whether or not action should be taken if an ARRA recipient fails to file. In the interim, it is critical that federal agencies do everything they can to clamp down on non-reporting recipients and OMB ought to be encouraging them to do so. In addition, please provide to me the total number of recipients penalized for not reporting data or reporting it late, and describe what, if any, punitive action has been taken against them as of the date of this letter.

 

 

 

In my letter I also raised concerns about Suspension & Debarment (S&D) problems at the Department of Transportation. It is also my understanding that until recently the Interior Department completely lacked an S&D program at all; so it would not be unusual to find that the Interior Department gave ARRA money to an organization that had earlier failed in, for example, some aspect of its performance to Interior.

 

 

 

I also greatly appreciated your response to my inquiry regarding the Excluded Parties List System (EPLS) and my staff looks forward to receiving a briefing on that system. According to its website the EPLS is intended to:

 

 

provide a single comprehensive list of individuals and firms excluded by Federal government agencies from receiving federal contracts or federally approved subcontracts and from certain types of federal financial and nonfinancial assistance and benefits. The EPLS is used to keep agencies abreast of administrative, as well as, statutory exclusions taken throughout the Federal Government.

 

 

 

However, there is a substantive and critical concern that has been brought to my attention by federal officials regarding the EPLS that I would like you to address. Let me start with an example to illustrate my concern. Company/Individual ABC receives a $5 million dollar ARRA contract from Agency X on June 1, 2009. Subsequently, on August 1, 2009, Company/Individual ABC is placed on EPLS for “administrative, as well as, statutory exclusions taken.” From my conversations with federal officials, it is my understanding that because the ARRA contract was awarded prior to Company/Individual ABC being placed on the EPLS system, ARRA contract payments will continue to be paid.

 

 

 

This is an appalling bureaucratic mishandling of taxpayer funds. Please let me know as soon as possible whether this type of scenario is being addressed, and if not, why not.

 

 

 

But even for recipients who want to report data, it is not always easy to do so. A January 6, 2010 column in the Washington Examiner described the many problems one business owner had when reporting a $2,000 contract to federalreporting.gov.[1] The article noted that the business owner spent seven hours attempting to input the data, and did so only after all of the stimulus money was spent.

 

 

 

In addition, in response to my inquiry I was recently advised by the RAT Board that it does not have access to a complete list of precisely who received a loan, grant or contract, pursuant to the Recovery Act. To say that this is remarkable and a serious shortcoming is an understatement. How can the RAT Board do its job efficiently or effectively when it does not have possession of the most basic and fundamental of information to conduct its work, namely: who got the money?

 

 

 

While I am eager to see the completion of the Federal Awardee Performance and Integrity Information System (FAPIIS), I remain concerned by flaws in the current system and the numerous cases that have already arisen regarding questionable entities receiving Recovery Act dollars. For instance, a recent report told the story of two entities that have both received stimulus funds under circumstances that do not inspire confidence.[2] In one case, a construction company under criminal investigation for bilking the taxpayers of San Diego, California, received $6.4 million in stimulus funds to repair roads and runways. In another case, a large corporation recently fined for polluting a creek with chromium, dioxin, lead, and mercury received $15.9 million in stimulus funds to conduct environmental monitoring on the same site. Please keep me updated on the completion of the FAPISS, and provide me with the total amount of ARRA funds and non-ARRA funds that will be spent to create it and maintain it.

 

 

 

I was also interested to read your response regarding the federal government’s irregular accounting of ARRA funds. Your letter stated that these “alleged discrepancies” were the result of “incorrect assessments of the sources referenced.” Any incorrect assessments occurred within the executive branch, as the terms and data in my prior letter originated there. Indeed an executive branch official told my staff: “in the federal government everybody is using different terms to talk about the same thing, and similar terms to talk about different things.” In addition, I read your response to Question 5 with great interest and note that it is limited strictly to tax cheats and/or criminals who are contractors. Please provide to me your response with regard to those who received ARRA grants or loans as well.

 

 

 

Regarding the ability of states to protect ARRA funds from fraud, waste, and abuse, you stated that OMB is “very concerned about States’ capacity to protect against waste, fraud and abuse.” I share your concern. Until better controls are in place to protect these funds the waste, fraud, and abuse will only grow and we will find ourselves again in a ‘pay and chase’ system that routinely ends poorly for taxpayers.

 

 

 

My concern with sub-recipients continues despite your responses and it seems that my concerns are well founded. I recently came to learn that there are over 10,000 sub-recipients of ARRA money that reported for the first quarter. However I understand, in response to an inquiry I made, that thousands of these same sub-recipients did not report in the second quarter. Please provide information indicating whether the rules changed regarding their reporting and, if not, why these sub-recipients stopped reporting and what is the Administration going to do about it.

 

 

 

Additionally, I was also pleased to read in your letter that OMB is open to “alternative uses” of unobligated stimulus money if taxpayers would be “better serve[d].” But like so many Americans I remain confused about how so many of the stimulus projects were determined to be the best use of limited taxpayer dollars in the first place. For instance, recent reports by my colleague Senator Coburn and others have highlighted the following ARRA projects:

 

 

 

· Millions of taxpayer dollars to buy road signs reminding taxpayers of how their money is being spent.

 

 

 

· $2.2 million grant to construct new water pipes for a San Francisco golf course.

 

 

 

· $1.15 million to construct a guardrail around a Woodward, Oklahoma lake that does not exist.

 

 

 

· $578,661 to combat homelessness in a New York town that never requested the money and does not have homelessness. A HUD official encouraged town officials to come up with “creative strategies” to use the funding.

 

 

 

· $1,849,627 to a Nevada non-profit for weatherization services, after the non-profit was terminated from the same project for deficient work and failing to follow accountability requirements.

 

 

 

· $800,000 for the construction of a super-runway at a Johnstown, PA airport that serves an average of 20 passengers per day.

 

 

 

Finally, I appreciate your noting that additional funds have been provided to the Inspectors General community to pursue ARRA matters. At the same time, I am interested in learning more about the resources that each agency is dedicating to ARRA administration and oversight. Accordingly, please let me know how many full-time employees are being provided by each agency to conduct ARRA activities.

 

 

 

It is no surprise that Americans are worried, and they have good reason. With a ballooning federal debt and growing unemployment, Americans are rightfully angry to see their hard-earned dollars as well as dollars the government has borrowed to fund projects that are so patently wasteful. Hundreds of thousands of dollars here and there might not sound like a lot to some in Washington, but it is an incredible amount for the millions of Americans struggling to put food on the table and pay their bills.

 

 

 

Please provide the requested information by February 10, 2010. Should you have any questions regarding the contents of this letter please do not hesitate to contact Christopher Armstrong or Brian Downey of my Committee staff at (202) 224-4515.

 

 

 

Sincerely,

 

 

 

Chuck Grassley

 

United States Senator

 

Ranking Member of the Committee on Finance

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Guest Human

I'm going to tell you folks something; Do I need the governments help to get on my "feet"? Nope

 

For the simple reason that I know that government is not going to do it. I rely on me, myself, and I.

 

In a sense the way the net is structured right now has made folks lazy.

 

You want the info for free, then you pat yourselves on the back stating just how smart you are in getting the info, but it's not working like that anymore. When everyone left the isp's, the information was scattered to the four winds of the internet.

 

Are folks going to go back to the major ISP'S in the hope of getting the info they need to survive all of this? Maybe?

 

Is it there anymore? No

 

In any case washington dc is a federal town, most of the jobs in dc ARE government related.

Can you imagine for someone like obama who is a left winger what dc is like to him?

PARADISE!!!!!!

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Guest HUD

When President Obama signed the Recovery Act into law nearly a year ago, it was designed to do three things: create jobs, help those harmed by the economic crisis, and lay a new foundation to make America competitive in the 21st century economy.

 

And by putting people back to work greening homes in cities like Philadelphia and building high speed rail in places like Milwaukee and Madison this Administration is using our response to the economic crisis as a catalyst to build good neighborhoods, more resilient communities and the strong, interconnected regional backbones our economy needs to create and sustain those jobs.

 

In fact, within 30 miles of that rail line's five stops, you find 76 percent of Wisconsin's population.

 

Second, President Obama just ordered the first place-based review of all federal policies in thirty years -- asking each agency to determine whether federal policies enable and encourage locally-driven, integrated, and place-conscious solutions…or obstruct them.

 

Third, we have been charged with forging interagency partnerships on a scale that is unprecedented. With the Long-term Disaster Recovery Working Group I co-chair with Secretary Napolitano, we are working with communities to protect against the effects of climate change by strengthening building codes, considering new approaches to land use, and incentivizing economic development in more climate-resilient places. And we expect to deliver our report to the President in April -- and then get to work implementing it.

 

We have also formed a partnership with the Department of Energy to streamline and better coordinate the use of $16 billion in federal weatherization funds appropriated through the Recovery Act -- and with the rule we published last week, we made 3 million public and federally-assisted rental units eligible instantly.

 

And of course, the Sustainability Partnership. Indeed, one of the first things we did when we took office was establish this partnership between HUD, DOT and EPA rooted in six Livability Principles to provide more sustainable housing and transportation choices for families and lay the foundation for a 21st century economy.

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Guest August

IBM may seem like the an all American company, but 71% of its workforce was outside the U.S. at the end of 2008, a figure even higher than the non-U.S. share of its revenue (65%). In 2009 the company reduced its U.S. employment by about 10,000, or 8%.

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Guest LAW

Annual Report to the President on Progress Implementing the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009

 

Vice President's Introduction

 

Dear Mr. President,

 

A year ago on February 17, 2009, Congress passed, and you signed, H.R. 1, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. In the three months prior to the Act, the nation lost 2.2 million jobs. Financial institutions were on the brink of collapse, and the “Great Recession” was being recognized for what it was – the most calamitous economic downturn since the Great Depression. You asked me to lead the implementation of the Act, with a focus on getting its efforts underway quickly, watching the taxpayers’ funds carefully, and putting America back to work. Attached is a report on the first year of our implementation efforts.

 

One year after the passage of the Act, we can report that approximately 2 million jobs have been created or saved thanks to the Act’s impact on hiring in the private sector, by local and state governments and by non-profits. This estimate comes from the Congressional Budget Office and is corroborated by the analysis of the Council of Economic Advisers. In January, we received more than 160,000 reports on progress from recipients of funds under the Act. These reports provided a transparent look at what was going on in projects and activities that accounted for a sample representing about 20 percent of overall spending under the Act.

 

To date, I have spoken to governors of all 50 states and local officials from over 130 jurisdictions. These state and local officials – both Democrats and Republicans -- have widely acknowledged the critical role that the Recovery Act has played in preventing teacher layoffs and avoiding tax increases.

 

By design, the Act had three primary purposes: Rescue, Recovery and Reinvestment. The enclosed report reviews our progress in each of these three areas. Almost 20 million Americans have gotten extended unemployment benefits thanks to the Act, and over 95 percent of working families have had their taxes cut. Jobs have been created thanks to tens of thousands of projects now underway nationwide. And the groundwork for the economy of the next century is being put in place as we invest in high speed rail, health technology, broadband, a smarter electrical grid, clean cars and batteries, and renewable energy.

 

Our work is far from finished. Many projects are just now getting underway, and will be creating jobs throughout 2010 and beyond. Today, we are announcing an additional $1.5 billion of innovative surface transportation projects that will support jobs and economic growth from coast to coast. Work on many Recovery Act projects will accelerate in the spring and summer months as weather conditions permit work on roads, bridges, water projects, and Superfund site clean ups.

 

Predictions at the outset of the Recovery Act warned of the potential for wide spread fraud. To combat this, Congress and the Administration put in place mechanisms to deter this fraud, including enhanced project reviews by agencies and the Office of Management and Budget, oversight of all spending and contracts by a team of 12 Inspectors General who make up the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board, and focused work by the Justice Department’s Anti-Fraud Task Force on ‘Recovery Act activities. While any waste or fraud is unacceptable, the record to date compares very favorably with both public and private sector experience.

 

At the same time, we have been diligent in getting the funding into the hands of those who are creating jobs. Through the end of January, we have given tax cuts and obligated funds totaling $453 billion. We are on target to meet the Administration’s commitment that 70 percent of the funds will have been outlayed and delivered in tax benefits by September 30, 2010 – indeed we are ahead of schedule in meeting that goal.

 

The work that you set us out to do a year ago is going well. Projects underway thus far range from clean energy programs to highway improvement projects, from new health care facilities to investments in the nation’s “smart grid.” These successes have been the product of work by the 28 agencies who received Recovery Act funds. I meet with the heads of the major cabinet agencies regularly and can report that they have been engaged and responsive. The excellent work of the various White House staff is the glue holding together the network of federal agencies, and is essential to our progress.

 

I want to thank you for the confidence you showed in giving me this important task and I believe that we have served the American people well.

 

Cordially,

 

Joe Biden

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What We Were Facing

 

Enacted on February 17, 2009, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (“ARRA” or “the Recovery Act”) was designed to combat the largest downturn in the economy since the Great Depression and to help put Americans back to work. One year later, we can definitively say that ARRA is meeting its goals and providing a measureable benefit to the economy. When ARRA was passed, the economy was in freefall. Job numbers were plummeting and unemployment rolls were expanding. More and more Americans were losing their jobs and the country was in need of a jumpstart. ARRA has provided just that.

 

The Recovery Act Has Had an Effect

 

As ARRA funds have begun to work their way through the economy, several key indicators show that they have clearly halted an economic freefall. In their recently released quarterly report, the Council of Economic Advisers (CEA) found that GDP had been positively impacted by ARRA:

 

"ARRA added between 2 to 3 percentage points to real GDP growth in the second quarter of 2009; between 3 and 4 percentage points in the third quarter, and between 1.5 and 3 percentage points in the fourth quarter. This is broadly similar to those of a wide range of other analysts."

 

GDP is not the only indicator that shows a boost from ARRA funds. Payroll job losses are also lessening and, ever since a peak in March of 2009, unemployment insurance claims have been generally declining.

 

It is no accident that we have seen the labor market improve dramatically since the passage of ARRA – abundant evidence and many different experts say it is creating millions of jobs.

The Recovery Act Has Created Jobs

 

At the end of September 2009, CEA released their first quarterly report, finding that ARRA had created or saved over 1 million jobs. In their second quarterly report, CEA found that this positive trend continues, with ARRA having created or saved 1.5 to 2 million jobs in the fourth quarter of 2009, as shown in Figure 4. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO), in their latest report on the status of ARRA implementation, also found that ARRA funding has supported a comparable number of jobs – with their estimate being up to 2.4 million jobs supported.

 

Total Obligations and Outlays

 

A primary goal of the Act was to get money into the economy in a rapid and responsible manner. Spending was intended to move out quickly but its primary impact was designed to be felt over a roughly a two year period. As of the end of January, the Recovery Act has obligated a total of $334 billion in spending, outlayed $179 billion of that amount, and provided an estimated $119 billion in tax relief for families across the country. Thus, $453 billion, or 57 percent of the $787 billion total, as estimated at enactment, has been put to work in the economy, providing immediate rescue for those suffering the most, rebuilding our nation’s infrastructure, building industries of the future, and providing much needed tax relief including cuts for 95 percent of working families.

 

The Structure of the Recovery Act

 

Notwithstanding this progress, the nature of the Recovery Act remains misunderstood by many, and misconstrued by others: critics have suggested that the entire $787 billion is being spent on earmarked programs. Instead, the Recovery Act is divided into three roughly equal parts: tax relief, direct aid to states and individuals (or “payments”), and projects that not only help rebuild today’s infrastructure, but also invest in the industries of tomorrow. And it has no earmarks.

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Spending at Different Paces

 

The Recovery Act is a balanced package that anticipated a multi-year recovery. By design, it includes some investments that spent out immediately, and others that kick in later so that the stimulating affects of the Act support a more sustained recovery. The single largest part of the Recovery Act — more than one-third of it — is tax cuts: 95 percent of working Americans have seen their taxes go down as a result of the Act, the broadest tax cut in history. This was designed to provide gradual and sustained tax relief to families over a period of time. And it kicked in right away.

 

The second largest part of the Act — just under a third — is direct relief to state governments and individuals. The money is allowing state governments to pay teachers (hundreds of thousands across the country according to reports filed from state governments), firefighters and police officers and is also preventing states’ budget gaps from growing wider. And those hardest hit by the recession are getting extended unemployment insurance, health coverage, and other help to get through these tough times. This money goes to state governments and families in need, without red tape or delays, and was designed to be the quickest acting mechanism to save our economy from the brink of a second Great Depression. For this reason, over 80 percent of the outlays in the spending categories of the Recovery Act in 2009 came in the form of payments that did exactly this. And without these payments, those hurting the most in our country would have found themselves in even greater need, and our economy would have suffered much greater damage.

 

The final third of the Act comes in the form of projects. These projects are not only comprised of the critical work that needs to be done to rebuild our country today, but also the work that needs to be done to lay the foundation for a stronger economy – one that will position America to compete for the jobs and in the industries of tomorrow. Investments in new technologies such as high speed rail, health information technology, and the clean energy economy were designed to start spending out later in the Act and to last longer, providing an infusion of funds to keep the recovery on track. And here too, much progress has been made. In fact, while many doubted the speed at which such funds could be put to work, the federal agencies in charge of implementing these programs instead just worked harder and organized around the goal to make sure those doubts did not become reality. And the results are clear: in fact, despite this being the smallest of the three parts of the Recovery Act, just about a third of money currently at work (obligations + taxes) is coming from project related activity. Moreover, the majority of project funds are already obligated. This means that economic activity is already underway as states and localities hire contractors, companies hire workers, and work gets started. And much more project work is still to come.

 

It is also important to note that, of the $166 billion in funds remaining to be obligated, almost every dollar has already been spoken for, even if not yet obligated. Many of the ‘payment’ types of funds, such as Medicaid, are allocated on a quarterly basis, and are not obligated until the start of each quarter. Of the project related funds, many, such as High Speed Rail and smart grid funds, have already been awarded to recipients but have yet to be obligated. In addition, approximately $20 billion in unobligated funding is related to Health IT investments some of which will be awarded later this year, and the rest of which will be spent in the form of incentive payments starting in 2011 for providers who adopt Health IT.

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Ahead of Anticipated Pace

 

Though each part of the Act was designed to spend at different rates, the Act overall represents one of the largest and fastest infusions of direct funding into the economy. Just as the Congress understood the urgency of passing the Recovery Act, so too did the Federal agencies and their partners in charge of implementing it. In fact, Recovery Act funds have not only moved into the economy quickly, but the pace has also exceeded the Congressional Budget Office’s (CBO) original ambitious projection, as shown in Figure 8.

 

Part of keeping up the pace of moving funds out into the economy is tied directly to the oversight and management capabilities of the Federal agencies. Agencies have worked diligently to move funds out the door as fast as possible, while not sacrificing the careful selection processes, monitoring, and oversight necessary to make sure that Recovery Act funds are being used in a prudent manner. Understanding that speed in getting funds into the economy is crucial to achieving the goals of the Act, agencies, such as the Department of Defense, have reallocated funds from projects that, while worthy, are not able to execute in a timely fashion. In other cases, agencies have realized bid savings on project costs – and have quickly reallocated those “excess” funds to new projects, allowing more projects to be started than originally projected. For example, in August, the Department of Homeland Security was able to quickly reallocate $240 million in bid savings on current projects to new in-line baggage screening projects at ten additional airports across the country.

 

It is important to note that ARRA funds are not only going out ahead of schedule, but also with unprecedented transparency. The last recipient reporting period, covering work through December 2009, exhibited over 160,000 reports from those recipients required to submit reports on ARRA funds. Those 160,000 reports were reviewed and made public on deadlines that are faster than any other major financial reporting activities would require.

 

What We’ve Done So Far

 

Funds across the three major categories of spending –Rescue, Recovery, and Reinvestment – are moving out into the economy.

 

At the end of January, the majority of funds that have been disbursed into the economy were those providing Rescue and Relief to Americans, including the estimated $119 billion dollars in tax relief provided as of the end of January. In addition to tax relief, $190 billion in obligations and $145 billion in outlays (over 80 percent of all outlays) had gone towards direct support of individuals, states and cities, supporting programs such as:

 

* Unemployment Insurance – both the extension of benefits up to 79 weeks as well as an increase in the amount of payments (these have since been expanded and extended by further legislation);

* Medicaid – allowing states to maintain benefits and support increasing numbers of people requiring medical care;

* State Fiscal Stabilization funds – providing much needed funds for state governments to use to support both education as well as other government services;

 

The remaining funds that are those supporting projects, such as investments in highways, airports, water projects, housing and other infrastructure projects, as well as projects in green energy programs and other programs that help build industries of tomorrow. In total, over $140 billion has been obligated to project related activities. As shown in Figure 11 below, these funds span a wide array of programs and, as such, are more fragmented than are the funds that go towards "payments."

 

And areas such as HHS’s Health IT program, DOE’s smart grid or loan guarantee programs, Commerce’s and USDA’s broadband programs, or DOT’s high speed rail program have all started or finished awarding their funds, have all started obligating their funds, and will all play a bigger role in recovery in the year ahead.

 

With over $453 billion obligated, or almost 60 percent of the Recovery Act at work in the economy today, the stories that speak to those funds’ effects and the yardsticks that measure the funds’ impact abound. Since the Recovery Act’s passage a year ago, we have:

 

* Cut taxes for 95 percent of working families through the Making Work Pay tax Credit – that’s $37 billion in tax relief for 110 million working families in 2009.

* Made loans to over 42,000 small businesses, providing them with nearly $20 billion in much-needed capital

* Funded over 12,500 transportation construction projects nationwide, ranging from highway construction to airport improvement projects.

* Funded projects at 51 Superfund sites from the National Priority List. Of those sites, 34 already have on-site construction.

* Started more than 2,850 construction and improvement projects at over 350 military facilities nationwide, with more than 950 projects completed.

* Made multi-billion dollar investments in innovation, science and technology that are laying the foundation for our 21st century economy including:

o $2.4 billion in grants to companies and educational institutions in over 20 states to fund 48 new advanced battery and electric drive projects that will help power the next generation of advanced vehicles.

o $3.4 billion in grants to private companies, utilities, manufacturers and cities to fund smart energy grid projects that will support tens of thousands of jobs and benefit consumers in 49 states.

o The first of over $7 billion in awards to bring broadband to communities where there is little or no access – a significant step forward in driving local economic development.

o More than $5 billion in grants to fund 12,000 cutting-edge medical research projects at research and educational institutions in every state across the country.

o $8 billion in awards to fund projects in 31 states that lay a foundation for a high speed rail network here in the U.S. – a move that will not only create jobs and drive economic growth, but jump-start a critical element of our 21st century infrastructure.

* Provided critical relief for state governments facing record budget shortfalls, including:

o More than $50 billion to help prevent cuts to Medicaid programs across the country.

o Nearly $60 billion in funding for education – a move that governors say is already responsible for creating and saving over 300,000 education jobs in the fourth quarter of 2009.

 

But we will not be satisfied until every dollar is at work, aiding Americans hurt and out of work, helping Americans who want a job find a job, and building the economy of tomorrow.

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