President Obama and Vice President Biden have been clear since they took office that this Administration will not put up with business as usual when it comes to transparency and accountability. They fundamentally believe that the American people have the right to know how their hard-earned tax dollars are being put to work.
That’s why, when the Recovery Act was passed and signed into law, it required tens of thousands of recipients of Recovery Act funds to report every quarter on what exactly they are doing with the money -- and those reports are posted in full view on Recovery.gov.
This is unprecedented – never before has this level of transparency been available by the federal government. When the Recovery Act was passed, the President and Vice President were adamant that we didn’t just take the necessary steps to begin to repair the economy by passing the largest economic recovery package in history – but that, while implementing that package, we made sure every dollar was accounted for and every official was held accountable.
And this was no small undertaking with $787 billion to distribute over just 2 years. There has been repeated skepticism on whether this could be done effectively and efficiently.
Despite that skepticism, this effort proved to be extremely successful. Of the 95,483 prime recipients required to file thus far, just 1 percent failed to file a report this quarter, the vast majority of which were first-time non-reporters. The remaining non-reporters – those that have failed to report repeatedly -- account for only 0.002% of Recovery Act funds awarded.
That said, non-compliance in any form is not acceptable. We take these cases seriously. For each recipient of Recovery Act funds that repeatedly fails to report, the maximum penalty possible is being pursued, with action ranging from withholding or rescinding funds to litigation, if necessary.
As noted in today’s story in USA Today, this tough action marks “the first time the government has taken action to enforce reporting requirements.”
When we said we would provide unprecedented transparency of Recovery Act spending, we meant business.
Andrea Mead is the Recovery Act Press Secretary