Posted on February 24, 2009 3:32 AM
CMAP Economic Recovery Update, 2/24/09
OMB initial guidance. On February 18, 2009, the federal Office of Management and Budget released initial guidance for federal agencies on implementing the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). CMAP staff have summarized its contents, which include grant announcement timelines, reporting requirements, and other information. Please click here for our summary, which includes a link to the full document.
"Use It or Lose It." The final bill as signed by President Obama contains numerous references to the requirement that some ARRA funds must be spent within 120 days of "enactment." Our best understanding is that the use-it-or-lose-it clock starts when the appropriate federal agency makes funding available.
Regarding the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), the clocks start on the date of apportionment. We understand from FHWA and FTA staff that apportionment could happen as soon as March 2 and no later than March 10 (because the ARRA specifies these apportionments must be made no more than 21 days from signing, which happened on February 17). Once the clock starts for FTA, 50 percent of funds must be under a grant within 180 days. For FHWA, 50 percent of funds to states must be obligated within 120 days. All locally programmed FHWA funds must be obligated by one year from apportionment (anticipated to be March 2010), the same date by which the other 50 percent of FTA funds must be under grant and the other 50 percent of state FHWA funds must be obligated. At that time, funds from states and urbanized areas that have not obligated their funds will be redistributed. The redistributed funds will be available through September 30, 2010.
Further guidance. A number of public and private organizations have begun posting information about how various types of ARRA funds will be handled.
- Transportation. On February 24, IDOT issued a summary of ARRA funds for highways, transit, intercity rail, and aviation. It includes information about the $1.5 billion nationally for "Supplemental Discretionary Grants" and about general grantee reporting requirements.
- Energy. The U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy has good descriptions of the several pieces of the ARRA that deal with energy. The Alliance to Save Energy has created a table of all relevant appropriations and tax provisions from the ARRA dealing with energy.
- Environment. The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency has set up a web page for the ARRA as it relates to the Clean Water and Drinking Water State Revolving Fund loan programs. These programs fund improvements to local wastewater and water supply infrastructure. The agency will also be holding a webinar on February 26, 2009 from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. CST to provide more information. Officials from municipalities and sanitary districts who are interested in water and sewer projects using ARRA funding should make plans to attend this webinar.
- Housing. Information on the Neighborhood Stabilization Program can be found on HUD's website. The Illinois Department of Human Services is the current administrating agency for the Neighborhood Stabilization Funds enacted by Housing and Economic Recovery Act (HERA) of 2008, however the next round of NSP funding through the ARRA will be a competitive grant process through HUD. Current information and funding announcements on NSP can be found on the DHS website.
The Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, the state administering agency for Community Development Block Grant Funds, has established an ARRA web link. Specific information is not yet available.
- Telecommunications. Several existing local initiatives are following the funds for telecommunications in the ARRA. Governor Quinn's office has a broadband wiki, and he has long advocated to expand and enhance broadband and other telecommunications infrastructure, including the extension of the fiber lines to schools, hospitals and government buildings. The total funding for broadband is $7.2 billion and is to be distributed between several uses:
- $4.35 billion in competitive grants through the U.S. Department of Commerce Broadband Technology Opportunities Program to increase access to broadband in unserved and underserved areas.
- $2.5 billion to provide access to rural areas, appropriated by the Department of Agriculture.
- $350 million for a national broadband inventory map.
- Workforce development. Most funds for workforce development training will be awarded to and programmed by the Local Workforce Investment Boards. A consortium of nine workforce boards serving the Chicago Metropolitan area work together to leverage resources to build an effective, regional workforce system. The workforce boards have collaborated to create workforce policy recommendations. Click here for other useful documents, reports, and links.
Recovery websites. The State of Illinois has a new site, Recovery.illinois.gov, which Governor Quinn calls "a tool for every taxpayer, business, and government official interested in the effort to rebuild and restore our great state." The Obama administration has posted a set of Frequently Asked Questions about their Recovery.gov website.
Homeowner assistance. Although not formally a part of the ARRA, President Obama last week announced the Homeowner Affordability and Stability Plan, a plan to reduce foreclosures and stabilize the housing market. According to a White House fact sheet, this plan will structure or refinance mortgages for over nine million homeowners at risk of foreclosure. On March 4, more implementation details will be made available regarding the plan, whose key components include:
- Refinancing for up to 4 to 5 million responsible homeowners to make their mortgages more affordable
- A $75 billion homeowner stability initiative to reach up to 3 to 4 million at-risk homeowners
- Supporting low mortgage rates by strengthening confidence in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac
News links. Among the related media coverage:
- According to the New York Times, a former secret service agent is expected to be appointed as chairman of the new Recovery Act Transparency and Accountability Board that will oversee stimulus spending.
- Regarding broadband funds, Government Technology magazine describes how and why local governments should comment on the federal eligibility requirements now be drafted.