Who are we? How did we get this job? What do we do? What don’t we do?
The Recovery Board consists of a chairman, Earl E. Devaney, long the Inspector General of the Interior Department, and 12 other Inspectors General from various government agencies. The Board receives spending reports from the 28 federal agencies that distribute Recovery monies and also oversees the process in which recipients of Recovery funds submit reports on their spending. Working closely with the Inspector General community, the Board coordinates accountability efforts designed to guard against fraud, waste and abuse in Recovery spending.
The expenditure of Recovery monies is solely within the purview of the agencies charged with disbursing the funds. The Board is not involved in deciding what projects are funded or in the funding process. The Board collects information from recipients of Recovery money and posts data from those reports on its public website, Recovery.gov, to help the public see what projects and which recipients have received contracts, grants and loans.
Although Chairman Devaney was appointed by President Barack Obama and meets regularly with Vice President Joe Biden, the administration’s point man in the Recovery effort, the Board is non-partisan and operates independently from the administration. It is correct to describe Recovery.gov as the official government website tracking Recovery spending; it is incorrect to call Recovery.gov a White House website.
Chairman Devaney testifies regularly on Capitol Hill before various oversight committees in the House and Senate on the operations of the Board. Other Inspectors General who serve on the Board also appear regularly on Capitol Hill to discuss their own agency operations. The Board meets once a month to conduct general business. Three Board subcommittees dealing with Recovery funds, Recovery.gov, and accountability efforts meet as needed. The Inspectors General or their representatives from all agencies distributing Recovery money also meet monthly on issues involving reporting, data quality, training, outreach and accountability.
The Board is scheduled to cease operations in September 2013.
The Recovery Board does not play any role in the distribution of the $275 billion earmarked for federal contracts, grants and loans in the Recovery Act, nor does it have anything to do with deciding which projects should be funded. Those decisions rest solely with the 28 federal
agencies receiving Recovery money. Any inquiries relating to the decision-making process regarding Recovery projects should be directed to the federal agency that distributed the funds.
The Board does not have specific details on the various Recovery projects beyond the information provided on Recovery.gov. Each project covered by a recipient report can be located on the blue map on the website by using the search function. Users also can download a file of contracts, grants and loans for the state or territory where the project is located in the Download Center.
Information on contracts, grants and loans being distributed by agencies under the Recovery program can be found on the gold agency report map on the website. The agency information comes from sources other than recipient reports (USASpending.gov for grants and loans and Federal Procurement Data System – FPDS - for contracts). As a result, the agency information often does not match the recipient spending figures on Recovery.gov. The discrepancy occurs because agency information covers a different time period and is updated more frequently than recipient information on Recovery.gov.
Recovery.gov provides overall information on how much has been spent in the two other components of the economic recovery initiative - tax benefits and entitlements. However, those initiatives are not tracked on Recovery.gov. Questions regarding tax benefits and entitlement spending should be directed to the Treasury Department’s Office of Tax Analysis and the Office of Management and Budget or to the specific agencies involved.
The Recovery Act requires recipients of contracts, grants, and loans to report quarterly on their use of the funds. Under guidance issued by the Office of Management and Budget, these reports must contain an extraordinary amount of data designed to facilitate accountability and transparency.
Recovery.gov posted data from the first set of recipient reports, covering the period February 17 through September 30 last year, on October 30, 2009. From that point forward, reports are required to be filed in the month following the completion of every calendar quarter (October-December; January-March; April-June; July-September). Recovery.gov posted data from the October-December quarter on January 30. Subsequent data postings are scheduled in this calendar year for April 30, July 30, and October 30.
Recipients submit their reports on FederalReporting.gov., another website developed and overseen by the Recovery Board. To gain access to FederalReporting.gov, recipients need to have a DUNS number, obtained from Dun and Bradstreet, and be registered on the federal Central Contracting Registration (CCR) database. Once recipient reports are filed, data from FederalReporting.gov is moved to Recovery.gov. where it is available, just as it was filed by the recipient, for public review.
Recipients must include in their reports, among other things, the location and purpose of the projects, the identity of the funding agency, the prime and subcontracts associated with each project, the progress of the projects, and the number of jobs that were funded by the Recovery money. Recipients are allowed to make corrections in their reports on a continuing basis. Federal agencies that disburse Recovery funds are allowed to review the reports and suggest corrections, but only recipients change their reports.
Recipients of grants or loans exceeding $25,000, including state and local governments, universities and non-profit organizations, are required to report. Individuals, except sole business proprietors, do not need to report. All recipients of federal Recovery contracts, regardless of the size of the contract, must report.
The recipient reports contain information on projects for the specific quarter for which they were filed. Although the overall spending figures are cumulative, the jobs figures are not and represent only the number of full-time equivalent jobs that were funded by Recovery money during the quarter covered by the latest recipient report. Quarterly figures cannot be added together to represent a jobs total from the Recovery program. Information on how jobs are calculated in the recipient reports can be found in the "Recipient Reporting" section of the FAQs on the Recovery.gov website.
There is no penalty in the law for failing to report, but recipients that do not file quarterly reports can lose their eligibility to receive any further government contracts, grants, or loans. Recovery.gov identifies recipients that fail to report in a given quarter. Those recipients that fail to report in two or more quarters are identified on Recovery.gov as "significant’’ offenders.
The Board’s accountability staff analyzes Recovery projects and refers potential problems or allegations to the federal Inspectors General who oversee Recovery spending for their respective agencies. Although the Board is empowered to conduct independent audits and investigations, it has chosen not to duplicate the investigative resources that already exist in the various Offices of Inspector General and other law enforcement operations throughout the federal government. Instead, the Board has implemented a series of contract review and accountability practices that provide a "value added" component to federal agencies by flagging certain high-risk projects or project areas that might warrant greater scrutiny. The Board also offers federal investigators detailed background information on the entities and principals receiving federal Recovery funds.
In addition to a state-of-the-art data analysis system, the Board operates a fraud hotline that allows individuals around the country to call in with tips about possible fraud, waste or abuse in Recovery projects. Tips also can be submitted online, mailed or faxed to the Board. The Board takes all allegations seriously and refers any promising lead to the relevant agency’s Inspector General to take whatever action is deemed appropriate.
What is not part of the Recovery Board and the Recovery program?
The $787 billion Recovery initiative is a different program than the Troubled Assets Recovery Program (TARP), which was designed to assist troubled banks and financial institutions.
What does Recovery.gov offer?
- The ability to see what entities received Recovery money, how the money is being spent, where it is being spent, and how many jobs can be attributed to the project spending. Recipients include state and local governments, businesses, non-profits and other entities.
- Easy-to-understand, user friendly charts, graphs and maps to help track the money.
- Information on state maps that allow users to see what Recovery projects are under way in their home towns, congressional districts and zip codes.
- Under "Opportunities," a job-search tool that helps users gain employment information and find out about possible Recovery-related jobs in their neighborhoods, states or other locations around the country.
- A glossary and other resources to help navigate the website, including a series of tutorials in the Video Center.
- A search function that lets visitors find information on specific recipients, projects or general types of Recovery projects under way around the country.
- Downloadable files on contracts, grants and loans for every state and territory – and the nation as a whole – for individuals wishing to build their own tools to view and compare Recovery spending activities. The files are updated biweekly to reflect recipient changes and corrections.
- Maps that juxtapose Recovery spending with such factors as diversity information and unemployment figures.
- Information on how to apply for a Recovery contract, grant or loan.
- Agency plans involving Recovery money and reports from the agency Inspectors General on Recovery fund oversight activities.
- A set of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) for recipients and individuals seeking more information on the website and the recipient reporting process.
What social sites is Recovery.gov using, and what are the links?
Where can the public comment about Recovery.gov?
Citizens can visit the Feedback page to submit any comments or observations they have about the website.
For media inquiries or to request an interview, please contact:
Edward T. Pound
Director of Communications
Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board
Assistant Director of Communications
Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board