Chapter 3: Selected Accomplishments

To meet the goals of the Recovery Act, 28 federal agencies were given the responsibility of using both existing and new programs to provide the Rescue, Recovery and Reinvestment funds necessary to jump start the economy.  The agencies have dedicated teams of people throughout the nation to provide outreach, counseling, assistance and oversight to recipients of funds.  In most cases, federal agencies do not spend the funds themselves, but rely on their state and local government, non-profit, and private sector partners to execute the missions that Congress set out.

Below, we have summarized selected accomplishments from some of the federal agencies and their recipient partners.  For a more complete description of agency level activities, please go to the websites of the individual agencies.

Department of Transportation

  • Improving our Nation’s Highways and Transit Systems:  The single largest investment of Recovery Act transportation dollars – $27.5 billion – was targeted at improving highways and bridges.   As we approach the one-year anniversary, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has approved 11,300 highway projects in total.  More than 2,100 of these projects have been completed and nearly 7,000 are currently underway. Similarly, the Recovery Act provided $8.4 billion to be used to improve transit systems.  During the past year, the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) has approved the purchase of more than 11,000 bus and rail vehicles.  Many of these will replace buses and other vehicles that have surpassed their useful life.  At the same time, these purchases support domestic manufacturing jobs right here in America. 
  • Making the Vision for High-Speed Rail a Reality:  The $8 billion to establish America's high speed rail capability is a significant down payment for 13 new, substantial high-speed rail corridors in 31 states across the country.  And with over $55 billion in project proposals for the initial $8 billion in funds awarded, there is obviously strong interest in the development of high-speed rail throughout the country.  Federal support for High Speed Rail is unlocking other investment.  For example, California has pledged to match the $2.25 billion in Recovery Act funded High Speed Rail grants.

Department of Education

  • Sustaining Schools in Crisis:  Faced with dramatic declines in revenues last year, states were on the brink of financial crisis.  The primary goal of ARRA education grants was to fill dramatic budget shortfalls, protect the jobs of teachers and other workers in our school systems, and provide stability for our students.  The Department of Education is doing just that.  It has made $69 billion in awards to fill $34 billion in state education budget gaps for FY 09 and ’10 and is funding over 300,000 education jobs out of a total of 400,000 public service jobs nationwide.  These ARRA funds also prevented tuition increases in universities and colleges throughout the nation.
  • Advancing Much Needed Education Reforms:  In addition to supporting education jobs throughout the country, Recovery Act funds have laid the groundwork for needed reforms that will improve our schools.  Twelve states have passed significant legislation to align themselves with the criteria for the $4.35 billion Race to the Top (RTT) grant competition in which forty-one states are participating.  Other Recovery Act education awards are also at work improving our nation’s schools.  Specifically, 23 states were able to expand and improve special education programs through the use of ARRA grants.  Furthermore, 24 states used ARRA funds for essential instructional technology upgrades.

U.S. Department of Energy

  • Launching the U.S. Smart Grid:  $4B in Recovery Act funds have been committed to modernizing the electricity grid, including obligated funding that will support the deployment of nearly 18 million smart meters and 877 digital sensors across the entire US transmission system to provide real-time system data to improve reliability and help better manage peak demand.  These investments are important first steps toward the modernization of our nation’s power infrastructure that will result in a grid that can detect outages before they happen, re-route power where it is needed, and aid in connecting renewable energy resources to the grid.

Department of Housing and Urban Development

  • Improving Homes in Urban America:  ARRA provided housing loans and capital funding to build or renovate homes in urban America to save, stabilize, and invest in some of our most critical housing situations across America.  HUD has been aggressive in its goals for this program and has rehabbed or developed 143,422 units across three HUD programs, substantially higher than its original targets.

Department of Health and Human Services

  • Serving More Patients through Federally Qualified Health Centers: Health Resources and Services Administration awarded Recovery Act funds that served nearly 1.6 million new patients in more than 1,100 health centers in 50 States and eight Territories, including more than 920,000 uninsured patients.  Health Centers provide comprehensive, quality and affordable primary and preventive health care services for medically underserved individuals across the country. 
  • Reinvesting in Scientific Research:  The Recovery Act has provided a tremendous boost to scientific research. As of Feb. 1, the National Institutes of Health has funded 13,680 research projects at universities research institutions in all 50 states, supporting innovative projects to address major challenges in biomedical research and accelerate critical breakthroughs and applied research on cutting-edge technologies.

Department of Labor

  • Extending the Net for the Unemployed:  As of January 29, 2010, the Recovery Act has funded over $49 billion in benefits to unemployed workers.  These funds directly help families struggling to make ends meet during this recession.  DOL has also distributed $2.8 billion to 32 states for Unemployment Insurance Modernization incentive payments, which increased the share of unemployed workers receiving benefits to its highest level in over 30 years. 

Department of Commerce

  • Building the Infrastructure of the 21st Century:  The Department of Commerce awarded six infrastructure grants (GA, ME, NY, SD, NC, MI) for a total of $180.7 million that will result in increased access to broadband for more than 3,000 schools, libraries, hospitals and public safety entities.  This represents nearly 4,400 miles of additional middle mile broadband fiber deployed to for unserved and underserved areas, including economically disadvantaged areas. 
  • Driving Economic Development in our Communities:  The Department of Commerce is putting  $150 million of Recovery Act funding to work today with funding for 68 projects in 37 states—and just as importantly, it will create a cycle of investment, innovation, and job creation for tomorrow.  These funds are creating high-skill, high-wage jobs, and attracting private investment.  In the first quarter of fiscal year 2010 alone, EDA has leveraged $792 million in private investment—a return of more than nine to one.

Department of Agriculture

  • Increased Food Benefits for Over 38 Million People Each Month:  The Recovery Act increases the benefits for those participating in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly named the Food Stamp Program), which helps low-income households better meet their nutritional needs.  On average, households of four receive an increase in benefits of $80 per month. This increase not only provides more food to families who need it, but also delivers a direct and immediate stimulus to the economy. Almost all (97 percent) of SNAP benefits are redeemed in grocery stores or farmer’s markets within 30 days. Currently, more than $830 million in ARRA SNAP benefits are spent at food retailers each month.

Department of the Treasury

  • Provided State and Local Governments Much Needed Access to Capital through the Build America Bond (BAB) Program:  The BAB program has given state and local governments much needed access to capital by allowing them to issue taxable debt while receiving a payment from Treasury for 35 percent of the interest cost. The program has allowed issuers to attract new investors such as pension funds and foreign investors who typically do not buy tax-exempt municipal debt. Because of the availability of BABs, local governments have been able to accelerate much needed projects such as school construction and water upgrades. From the program’s inception on April 3, 2009 until January 31st, 2010, over $70.8 billion of BABs have been issued by 47 states in 834 separate issues representing roughly 19.2 percent of municipal bond market issuances.
  • Investing in Renewable Energy:  Since July 2009, Treasury has made nearly $2.4 billion in payments in lieu of tax credits, offsetting nearly $8 billion in investments in renewable energy production in 273 separate properties across 36 states and Puerto Rico.  These properties have already produced more than 11.7 billion kilowatt hours of energy, enough to power 1.1 million homes for an entire year from renewable sources produced within the United States.

Department of the Interior

  • Investing in Our Nation’s Parks:  The Department of the Interior has invested approximately $100 million to restore and improve some of our nation’s most iconic structures, such as the Jefferson Memorial in DC, and the Skyline Drive in Virginia.  To date, 21 different parks have had improvement awards made.  The Department is also using almost $270 million in funds to enhance the infrastructure, facilities and overall user experience within some of our most treasured landscapes in our National Parks and Wildlife refuges, such as replacing the visitor center at the Dinosaur National Park in Utah.  On-site work is underway on 243 projects in National Parks, with 86 projects already completed, and over 670 Fish and Wildlife Service projects have started as well.

Department of Homeland Security

  • Emergency Food and Shelter Grants:  The Emergency Food and Shelter National Board has distributed more than $96 million to more than 10,450 local organizations across the country.  This funding provided almost 48 million meals, over 3 million nights of emergency shelter, over 164 thousand utility payments, and helped over 75,000 families with rental assistance in the most troubling times of the current recession.
  • Aviation Security:  TSA has awarded over $576 million to date for inline baggage handling systems at 16 airports, closed circuit television at 12 airports, and screening.  This program assures the flying public of safer, more efficient travel and reduces wait times for boarding.

Department of Veterans Affairs

  • Improving 120 Veteran Medical Centers across 45 states, Providing Facilities that are Safer, More Secure, and Energy Efficient:  VA is investing $1 billion in Recovery Act funding to make over 940 medical infrastructure improvements to enhance the safety, security, and energy efficiency of VA facilities nationwide.  Projects at VA Medical Centers include renovations to inpatient and outpatient care units; the expansion and modernization of Traumatic Brain Injury, Rehabilitation, Intensive Care, and Vascular Surgery units; and the expansion and modernization of outpatient pharmacies. 
  • Funded Major Renovation and Modernization of State Veteran Homes:  VA Recovery Act funding provides financial assistance to states to construct/acquire nursing home, domiciliary and adult day health care facilities for Veterans.  First year accomplishments included funding 29 projects in 18 states for the renovation of State Veteran Homes to create new and modern facilities to house our Nation’s Veterans.  These homes provide a total of nearly 7,000 beds for our Nation's Veterans.

General Services Administration

  • GSA Put the Construction Industry to Work Building a Clean Energy Economy: GSA has put more than 400 companies to work on clean energy projects across the country so far. At a time when there isn’t much work going around, GSA is driving the industry toward green projects and technologies.  In addition, bids on projects have consistently come in 8-10 percent under budget allowing GSA to make its Recovery Act funds go farther – funding more than $165 million worth of additional work without any additional cost to the taxpayer – while improving its processes to be better and faster now and in the future.

Environmental Protection Agency

  • Revitalizing Water and Wastewater Infrastructure:   A total of $6 billion in Recovery Act funds has gone to 50 State and 6 Territorial programs to capitalize Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF) and Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF) programs and provide direct grants for projects in the territories. The States and Territories have provided assistance for approximately 3000 projects serving over 114 million people (65 million under the CWSRF program, 49 million under the DWSRF program).  Approximately $1.6 billion is being spent on “green” projects, such as projects that address water efficiency, energy efficiency, green infrastructure, and other environmental innovations.



The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act is a strategic and significant investment in our country’s future. The Act will save and create jobs immediately while also laying the foundation for a robust and sustainable 21st century economy by modernizing our health care, improving our schools, modernizing our infrastructure, and investing in the clean energy technologies of the future.

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