ARRA Reporting Requirements

6/8/2010

[PDF version of signed letter]

Dear Colleagues:

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) and the Act’s reporting requirements have placed unprecedented expectations on your agencies to provide timely and accurate information.  I am writing to commend you for your efforts to meet your reporting obligations under the Recovery Act and to remind you of the importance of these reporting requirements.

The Recovery Act sets unprecedented expectations for both Federal agencies implementing the programs and State and local recipients of grants and contracts. Congress and the Obama Administration asked Americans to provide $787 billion to help the United States’ economy step back from the brink of a recession and to restore and modernize America’s infrastructure.  In return, the Federal Government promised to provide the public with frequent updates on how their tax dollars are being spent, what projects are being implemented, which communities are benefiting and other information that would promote open government, transparency, and accountability.

On its face, the commitment to transparency and accountability seems straightforward, but as we all know, the devil is in the details.  In addition to providing quarterly milestone progress and financial reports, your agencies must provide quarterly 1512 reports and periodic 1201c reports—not to mention additional submissions requested by congressional committees and State and local governments.  These frequent and sometimes overlapping requirements amount to dozens of data elements that need to be collected and provided, all pursuant to changing Federal guidance, shifting reporting deadlines, and other circumstances that are often out of our control.  We know that these requirements represent a burden, in particular for recipients with relatively limited staff and financial resources.

Despite these challenges, the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) ARRA recipients have produced results that reflect well on public transportation in America.  One hundred percent of the FTA recipients that were required to submit their 1201c reports did so in February 2010, and FTA’s Section 1512 reporting participation rates in January and April 2010 were 100 percent and 99 percent, respectively.  When we have asked you to confirm or make correction to the data that you provided, you have taken our requests seriously.  In May, the White House Office of Management and Budget noted that the Recovery Act’s Transit Capital Assistance Program ranked 7th out of 200 Recovery Act programs in terms of the number of corrections made to Section 1512 reports.  This result is due to FTA’s careful attention to potential reporting omissions and errors and your diligence in following up on our requests for clarification.

Please be advised, however, that President Obama has issued a memorandum to the heads of Executive Departments and agencies to ensure that all ARRA recipients have filed a report (Federal Register Vol. 75, No. 67) and stating that any recipient that has failed to report is not living up to the standards set by this Administration and must be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law.  Note that you must continue to report quarterly to http://www.federalreporting.gov/ on each ARRA grant you have received until all funds have been received and expended and you have submitted a final Section 1512 report for that grant.  If you find yourself experiencing difficulties in submitting your reports, please contact your FTA regional staff immediately so that we can work to resolve any problems you have encountered.

The reports that you have submitted are of great interest to the Office of the Secretary of Transportation, the White House, congressional committees, and other stakeholders with the power to shape the future of public transportation.  Thanks to your reporting, these stakeholders are aware that FTA’s Recovery Act formula program resulted in over 10,800 jobs created or retained between January 1 and March 31, 2010, the eighth highest number of jobs reported in over 200 ARRA programs.  Public transit recipients have demonstrated that they can follow through on their commitments under the Recovery Act, and it is this reputation for integrity that will serve us well in the coming surface transportation authorization and in other important debates over scarce resources.

So on behalf of President Obama and Secretary LaHood, thank you for the work that you have done, and will do, in meeting our commitments under the Recovery Act.  Keep up the good work!

Sincerely yours,


Peter Rogoff