Happy 2nd Birthday, Recovery Act!

February 18, 2011 | By Adrianne Fielding | Post a Comment

Amidst the frenzy on the expiring continuing resolution, the president’s FY 2012 budget request and the fever pitch of one-cuts-manship that D.C. is mainlining while grant recipients around the country can only watch, wonder and worry, a milestone passed yesterday with little fanfare.

It’s known by many names — ARRA, the stimulus bill, the Recovery Act, that #@&%* waste of taxpayer dollars — but the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 was signed into law by President Obama on Feb. 17, 2009.  And two years in, it continues to be a lightning rod for raised-voice conversations around the halls of Congress, town meetings, and dining room tables across the nation.

Whether you love it, hate it or are resigned to it, the Recovery Act has certainly been — if you’ll pardon the euphemism — an interesting chapter in government grantmaking. Of course, that chapter is still unfolding.  The Recovery Act itself mandated that all of the top-line federal awards had to be made no later than September 30, 2010, but the payout, pass-through and actual spending of those funds continues today.  While some of the projects funded by the Recovery Act are well underway (despite the law’s emphasis on supporting “shovel-ready” projects), some are really just getting started.

And then there’s the reporting. The Recovery Act reporting requirements really picked up where the Federal Funding Accounting and Transparency Act (FFATA, which is pronounced as if we all stutter – really, the powers that be couldn’t have agreed to follow the llama or Lloyd precedent on that?) leaves off, although recipients of non-stimulus grants also have to report on those funds according to FFATA requirements.  The Recovery Act Transparency Board established a web-based recipient reporting system and a publicly available database on stimulus-funded projects in an effort to maximize public visibility into how and where Recovery Act funds are spent and to hold grant recipients accountable for spending those dollars efficiently and effectively.

So two years in, has it all made a difference?  It depends on who you ask – and we’re asking you.

How has the Recovery Act changed your community — your organization — your grant-related activities — or not?  Is ARRA and the projects it underwrites about to blossom and positively impact others — or hitting the headache-inducing “terrible twos?”

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