July 20, 2009 By Matt Williams
Ever since President Barack Obama signed the $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act last winter, budget officers have been eager for more detail about state and local governments' roles and responsibilities when it's time for the first reporting deadline for expenditure data on Oct. 10.
During a live webcast on Monday, Danny Werfel, deputy controller of the Office of Management and Budget's (OMB) Federal Financial Management Office, said the answer is that the states -- considered the "prime recipients" of stimulus funds -- have full responsibility for reporting the expenditure data. But the states can also choose to delegate some of that reporting work, he said, to the "subrecipients," which oftentimes are local governments.
It's incumbent upon states to decide who they want to report the data, Werfel said. The OMB purposely left this flexible because some states wanted centralized control, while others sought a decentralized model because it would mean less data entry and less workload for a single agency, he said. "This is something that each prime recipient has to make their own judgment on," he said.
Werfel said state governments already should be communicating with local governments about who will report the data. The OMB hopes that by defining these responsibilities, it will reduce the number of control failures that cause double reporting or no reporting at all.
After the Oct. 10 deadline, the prime recipients will be able to flag subrecipients' data that may be inaccurate, and then ask the subrecipients to remedy deficiencies or mistakes. Federal agencies will also do their own double-check. Ultimately though, the states will certify the data.
Governments are awaiting the final version of an Excel spreadsheet template that will be uploadable to FederalReporting.gov, the Web site that will accept data from stimulus recipients beginning in October. Werfel said the template's release is imminent, and will be made available on Recovery.gov. Data can also be reported in XML or keystroked in manually.
Werfel said the OMB has received many questions about how agencies will be expected to report the number of jobs created and retained by the stimulus. A numeric data field has been added recently to the spreadsheet for this calculation. Jobs will be "normalized" via a standardized calculation based on a 40-hour workweek. Werfel explained it this way: If a state transportation board ordered 200 clean-fuel buses from a vendor, the state would be expected to talk to the vendor about how many people were hired as a result.
Werfel also urged recipients of Recovery Act funds to enroll in the Central Contractor Registration and obtain a Dun & Bradstreet (DUNS) number. Those identifiers are required in the reporting process, and can take several days to get, he said. Registration for FederalReporting.gov begins Aug. 17, Werfel said.
The first reporting deadline on Oct. 10 covers expenditures from Feb. 18 to Sept. 30. Subsequent reports will be made quarterly.
Monday's webcast will be posted on the OMB Web site in a few days. Registration for this week's other Recovery Act webinars is full -- those broadcasts will also be put online.