New Recovery Act Memo Comes as Recipients Improve Reporting
by Sam Rosen-Amy, 5/5/2010
On Tuesday, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) issued a new guidance on Recovery Act recipient reporting. The memo is aimed at increasing compliance with reporting rules. Specifically, it:
- Instructs Federal agencies to contact new recipients prior to the beginning of each reporting period to notify them of their reporting obligations.
- Directs Federal agencies to contact recipients who in prior quarters have not reported when required and pursue consistent and comprehensive follow-up to achieve reporting.
- Mandates use of available tools to actively monitor recipients during the reporting period and requires outreach to recipients that have not reported prior to the close of the reporting period.
- Requires Federal agencies to obtain recipient compliance with their reporting responsibilities or pursue sanctions and remedies.
- Requires Federal agencies to report non-compliant recipients to OMB within five days of the quarterly close.
The memo expands on several earlier memos on the same topic, but it lays out more concrete steps for agencies to follow. Agencies can now follow these "best practices" to make sure all their recipients report in a timely manner. In particular, I think the emphasis on new filers, and making sure they understand their responsibilites, is a good idea.
The memo comes on the heels of the release of the latest Recovery Act recipient reports, published by the Recovery Board on Friday, April 30. These new reports, covering from January 1 to March 21, are the third time recipients have had to report on their spending, and it looks like they're learning how to report. According to statistics released by the Board on Recovery.gov, no recipients reported late this time around, an amazing reduction from almost 12,000 late reports last cycle (this is not to say that every single recipient reported on time; at a certain point the Board draws a line and calls everyone who hasn't reported "non-filers"). At the same time, only about 6% of reports were changed by recipients, down more than half from last cycle.
Apparently, the focus OMB and the Recovery Board have been placing on recipient reporting has been paying off, thanks to memos like the one released today. Remember, though, that this doesn't mean the reports are perfect. Just because everyone's reporting doesn't mean they're reporting high quality information. Phil Mattera from Good Jobs First points out this problem in a recent blog post, showing instances of Recovery Act recipients who are most likely underreporting job counts. Hopefully the quality of the data will continue to improve as more and more recipients become used to reporting on their activities.