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Recovery.gov and Federalreporting.gov
Projects and contracts funded with dollars from the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act are subject to specific reporting requirements at all levels. These reports will be unprecedented in both the speed in which they are mandated and the details that are required. Even more noteworthy is that the reports will be made public via the recovery.gov website (not to be confused with the similarly named but unaffiliated, recovery.org). Government watchdogs, non-profit groups, amateur muckrakers, and of course politicians looking to score points all plan to scour over these reports, so getting them right is no trivial matter.
For each allocation made by the Federal Government, there is a “prime recipient.” The prime recipient will generally be a governmental entity, most likely a state agency or department, although other levels of government will be involved as well.
The prime recipient is responsible for quarterly reporting on all stimulus funds allocation received. Data to be reported comprise a lengthy list that includes the project description and current status, a job creation narrative (including the number of jobs created), the primary place of performance, and the total number and amounts of all sub-awards less than $25,000. This report must be uploaded each quarter to FederalReporting.gov within 10 days of the quarter end.
Following the report submission, there is a review period during which the recipients of awards and the governing agencies can review the data. Any changes must be made during this period which expires 30 days after the quarter end when the reports are made available to the public via recovery.gov.
Quarterly reporting for private companies acting as contractors for projects receiving stimulus dollars is required as well. While 1st Tier contractors need only report their DUNS ID number, address, and performance location, other contractors receiving sub-awards, will face tougher requirements. These vendors must report not only the products or services delivered, the timeline for completion, and a report describing job creation effects of the contract, but also the dollar amount of each invoice.
The format of FederalReporting.gov is based on the EPA’s Central Data Exchange and various seminars and web presentations have given an insight into what data will be required even if the format for submissions is not yet finalized. Regardless, government entities and contractors would be well advised to begin detailed project management and accounting now to avoid difficulties creating or re-creating the data later.
For government programs that already have systems in place for tracking, reporting, contract management, and project management, any additional data can be tacked on to the standard tracking and reporting. If such additional levels of detail are not readily manageable with current systems, a third-party system such as the one’s available from Acumen Solutions or CGI can be of great value.
For contractors tracking and performance management are nothing new. However, aggregating the data not by contract, but by allocations from the Feds may be new. Some vendors offer a private entity version of their stimulus tracking services which can help with the task.
Whatever the method, time is ticking away, and data is slipping through the cracks. Implementing controls and systems now is the only way to avoid trouble down the line.