Government Technology

Stimulus Expense Reporting Deadline Prompts ARRA Software for Government



August 4, 2009 By

A day of reckoning is quickly approaching for state and local governments that have received money from the federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act - the stimulus package that some lawmakers and economists hope will help sweeten the nation's sour economy.

Budget officials are bracing for Oct. 10, the first quarterly deadline mandated by the U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for stimulus fund recipients to upload detailed financial data to a new Web site called FederalReporting.gov.

'; var html5Player = 'false' ; var androidPlayer = 'false'; var br = getBrowserType(); if(br == 'Android' ) {thePlayer = androidPlayer;} else if(br =='iPhone' || br == 'iPad') {thePlayer = html5Player;} else {thePlayer = flashPlayer; } document.write(thePlayer);

Video: State and local CIOs describe the challenges of reporting on stimulus spending.

For the sake of transparency and accountability, President Barack Obama's administration and the OMB instituted what they say are the most stringent reporting requirements of any government grant-making process in history. Agencies will be required by the OMB to upload expenditure data - via an Excel spreadsheet or Extensible Markup Language (XML) - pertaining to subrecipients, subgrantees and subcontracts. Grants administrators say that extra level of detail will make accounting more complex.

Those requirements will put the onus on state and local governments to deliver an unprecedented amount of financial record keeping and reporting, and some agencies' computer systems likely are ill prepared to cope. Governments find themselves with a choice: purchase software that's built specifically for the stimulus, or forge ahead with enterprise software they already own.

"These dollars are going to be watched closer than any federal dollar that has ever come out of the Treasury," said Dave Quam, the director of federal relations for the National Governors Association. "We're talking Congress, reporters, states, locals - everyone is going to be watching this money. You might be able to know exactly where your tax dollar went at the end of the day. That's pretty remarkable considering where we are right now."

Photo: Dave Quam, director of federal relations, National Governors Association

But challenges are ahead. States will be asked to do more than they've ever done before, Quam said. And the same burden of transparency and detailed record keeping has also been placed on local governments.

Getting Out in Front

Rich Robinson, the chief operating officer of San Francisco's Department of Technology, said when he read the first draft of the stimulus package's reporting requirements, he quickly realized it would take 18 to 24 months for his IT department to build an in-house reporting application - much too long.

"I initially saw a significant gap," Robinson said. "The reason was because the local governments - being a city or county, you have lots of different agencies: public health, public transportation, law enforcement - all to some extent do their own thing on project management and financial accounting."

Robinson said he knew the 65 departments in the consolidated city-county government would have to be on the same page for stimulus reporting, because at least $500 million is estimated to be awarded to San Francisco. He decided the best choice for doing that was Microsoft's Stimulus360 - a solution built atop existing software that many governments already own: Office, SharePoint and Microsoft Dynamics; SQL Server, Virtual Earth and BizTalk are optional add-ons. Stimulus360 has been deployed in San Francisco's controller's office, the mayor's office and will soon be used by the auditor's office, Robinson said.

Robinson believes San Francisco's stimulus projects will be under even more scrutiny than elsewhere because of the city's large community of activists. Therefore, he said it was important to get out in front of the reporting issue. But he said some of his peers in other large cities are probably falling behind.


| More

Comments

Add Your Comment

You are solely responsible for the content of your comments. We reserve the right to remove comments that are considered profane, vulgar, obscene, factually inaccurate, off-topic, or considered a personal attack.

In Our Library

White Papers | Exclusives Reports | Webinar Archives | Best Practices and Case Studies
Cybersecurity in an "All-IP World" Are You Prepared?
In a recent survey conducted by Public CIO, over 125 respondents shared how they protect their environments from cyber threats and the challenges they see in an all-IP world. Read how your cybersecurity strategies and attitudes compare with your peers.
Maintain Your IT Budget with Consistent Compliance Practices
Between the demands of meeting federal IT compliance mandates, increasing cybersecurity threats, and ever-shrinking budgets, it’s not uncommon for routine maintenance tasks to slip among state and local government IT departments. If it’s been months, or even only days, since you have maintained your systems, your agency may not be prepared for a compliance audit—and that could have severe financial consequences. Regardless of your mission, consistent systems keep your data secure, your age
Best Practice Guide for Cloud and As-A-Service Procurements
While technology service options for government continue to evolve, procurement processes and policies have remained firmly rooted in practices that are no longer effective. This guide, built upon the collaborative work of state and local government and industry executives, outlines and explains the changes needed for more flexible and agile procurement processes.
View All

Featured Papers


Government Technology
Public CIO
Emergency Management
Digital Communities