Guide to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act for Texas Cities

WHAT IS THE AMERICAN RECOVERY AND REINVESTMENT ACT?

On February 17, 2009, President Barack Obama signed into law the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009.The stated purposes of the ARRA are:

  1. To preserve and create jobs and promote economic recovery.
  2. To assist those most impacted by the recession.
  3. To provide investments needed to increase economic efficiency by spurring technological advances in science and health.
  4. To invest in transportation, environmental protection, and other infrastructure that will provide long-term economic benefits.
  5. To stabilize state and local government budgets, in order to minimize and avoid reductions in essential services and counterproductive state and local tax increases.

The ARRA funds investments in many programs, including health care, energy, infrastructure, education, and public safety. The total cost of the package is $828 billion, consisting of nearly $396 billion for upgrades to transportation, infrastructure, construction, health care programs, education and housing assistance, and energy efficiency projects; $144 billion in state and local fiscal relief; and $288 billion in personal and business tax credits.

Unprecedented accountability and transparency requirements are also included in the ARRA. To meet these requirements, the government has set up a Web site (Recovery.gov) that will list each recipient of funds and project details.

WHAT WILL I FIND ON THIS WEB PAGE?

Texas cities have expressed interest in the ARRA and the funding it offers.The Texas Municipal League has created this Web page as a way to provide information on the programs most relevant to cities.

The information posted here will come from many sources, including the National League of Cities, the White House, federal and state agencies, and the Texas House of Representatives Select Committee on Federal Economic Stabilization Funding, among many others.

League staff will update this page with new information as it becomes available and will note the date of each update under each specific program.In addition, the League will send e-mails to the mayor and/or city manager of each Texas city when especially important information becomes available.

OTHER ONLINE RESOURCES

League staff will update each program listed below with new information as it becomes available.However, the following federal and state government Web sites also have pertinent information:

  • Main ARRA page:www.recovery.gov
  • Posted April 21 (from the Texas Comptroller): The Texas comptroller’s office has redesigned its recovery Web site. According to the comptroller’s office, the site “offers Texans an in-depth and transparent look at the federal stimulus dollars coming to our state.” The updated Texas Recovery site includes:
      • direct access from the home page to key stimulus resources you want to view.
      • a new post to the "On the Money" column with details on how state agencies are receiving money .
      • our Follow the Money section, providing a high-level view of the estimated impact on Texas.
      • the latest grants and contracting opportunities in the Apply for Funding section.
      • a place for future Transparency and Accountability reports and guidelines where stimulus spending will be tracked.
      • updated lists of both Texas and federal resources on the Web.

    Upcoming features:

    • Stimulus reporting tools with the ability to select specific report data and save to PDF or Excel
    • More “On the Money” articles, providing stimulus commentary in plain English

    More information and the latest news can be found on the Comptroller’s Texas Recovery Web site at http://www.window.state.tx.us/recovery/

    Posted September 18: The Texas comptroller’s website has a new feature that allows for an advanced search by eligible entity.Cities can now view stimulus program information that pertains to them by searching for programs that apply to “local governments.”This feature can be accessed at http://www.window.state.tx.us/recovery/apply/grants.php.

  • The National League of Cities (NLC):www.nlc.org/Recovery
    • NLC has invited any city official (including non-NLC members) to view an online Web cast about the Act.The Web cast gives an overview of the Act and provides access to the most current information held by NLC.To view the Web cast and accompanying materials, please go to www.nlctv.org.Click on the “02/25/09” program titled “National League of Cities – The Federal Recovery Package:What’s In It for Cities and How to Access the Resources.”You will be asked to register, but doing so is free.
    • Posted February 27: An additional Web cast is scheduled for March 11, 2009, at 2:00 p.m. central time.
  • Posted March 4: Texas House Select Committee on Federal Economic Stabilizaton Funding page: http://txstimulusfund.com
    • Posted April 15: The committee released a “mid-session report” on much of the information it has obtained thus far.To view the report, click here.
  • Posted March 23: Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison’s office has prepared a summary of many of the ARRA programs:http://hutchison.senate.gov/stimulusinfo.html
  • Posted March 25:Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison’s office is holding a summit on competitive grants on April 1, 2009, in Washington, D.C. 2009 Summit on Competitive Grants
  • Posted August 18: ESI International has a new webinar designed to help recipients of Recovery Act funds comply with the October 10 deadline for reporting requirements as mandated by the Office of Management and Budget.The webinar is entitled, “How to Successfully Manage Recovery Act Programs and Projects,” and it will be available on-demand for free beginning on August 20 at http://request.esi-intl.com/forms/EV09AUG20FM-ALLGOV-ARRAWebinar.Among other things, the webinar will address how local governments will be held accountable for Recovery Act-funded programs, how to manage the Recovery Act reporting requirements, and best practices for managing Recovery Act funds.

PRELIMINARY MATTERS

Registration Information for Direct Federal Government Grants: The federal government uses a central Web site, known as “FedConnect,” for all discretionary grant applications.While the Web site does not always have all the details on every grant, cities are required to register there to receive funding. Cities can preregister with FedConnect now. Potential applicants need to obtain a Data Universal Numbering System (DUNS) number. A DUNS number is a unique number that identifies an organization and helps track the distribution of grant money. The Web link for submitting applications through FedConnect is:https://www.fedconnect.net/FedConnect/PublicPages/FedConnect_Ready_Set_Go.pdf.

Before submitting an application through FedConnect, each city must complete the following steps:

Please allow 21 days to complete the registration process.

Posted April 9, 2010: President Obama has issued a memorandum to federal agencies regarding the enforcement of ARRA reporting requirements.The memo directs federal agencies to make sure that recipients comply with the reporting requirements, and authorizes the agencies to take punitive action when recipients fail to comply with the requirements, including terminating awards and reclaiming allocated funds.The Presidential memorandum can be accessed below.

Presidential Memorandum

Posted March 23 (from the National League of Cities):Guidelines for Spending Under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act: The White House has clearly communicated a desire and commitment to build strong partnerships with local governments. Every cabinet secretary that spoke to our [NLC] members as well as Cecilia Munoz, Director of the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs, made clear that the ultimate success of the recovery program depended on local and state governments. Cecilia restated her belief that this was a moment when the public will judge whether government, all levels of government, can truly work.

At the same time these officialsalso made clear that the selection of specific projects and programsby local officialswould be closely scrutinized to make sure that not only those that are explicitly prohibited, but also those that are “imprudent or (those) that do not further the job creation, economic recovery, and other purposes of the [ARRA]” would not be approved.

While we certainly understand and appreciate the concern that projects that “look bad” can create a negative public reaction that is applied to the overall program, we are clearly concerned that the language quoted above is very subjective and could delay the very projects that are intended to create jobs, modernize the nation's infrastructure, and restore economic growth.I have let the White House know that I hope there will be follow-up communications with an affirmative tone that describes what projects and programs the Administration wants and will support.

Here are links to Vice President Biden’s letter to NLCPresident Kathie Novak, and the White House Memorandum to Heads of Executive Departments and Agencies regarding “Ensuring Responsible Spending of the Recovery Act Funds”:

Biden Letter

White House Memorandum

Posted July 13 (from the National League of Cities):Important Information Regarding Upcoming Recovery Act Implementation Webinars. Section 1512 of the Recovery Act requires recipients to submit reports that include information about who is receiving Recovery Act funds and the amounts, the projects and activities being funded, and the status of the project and its impact on job creation and retention.Recovery Act grant recipients must submit reports required under Section 1512 beginning in October 2009.

On June 22, the White House Office of Management and Budget issued additional guidance to the federal agencies for carrying out the Act's reporting requirements.The guidance contains important information about the reporting framework that cities and towns who receive Recovery funds will be expected to follow.To view a copy of the Guidance, please visit www.recovery.gov/?q=node/579.

On July 8, the Office of Management and Budget announced a series of webinars to be held the week of July 20 to provide grant recipients information regarding implementing the June 22 Guidance.

To find out more information regarding the webinars, including the schedule and registration, click here:www.recovery.gov/?q=node/658.

Posted August 24: The White House Office of Management and Budget has published Frequently Asked Questions regarding the Recovery Act, which include new guidance on Section 1512 reporting requirements and other issues relating to the Act.This information can be found here:http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/recovery_faqs/.

Posted December 30: The White House Office of Management and Budget has released additional guidance on the Section 1512 reporting requirements, including information related to jobs counting and data quality.The guidance signals a simplification in method of counting jobs, providing that recipients of ARRA funds now can report job estimates on a quarterly basis rather than on a cumulative basis.The guidance can be accessed at:http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/assets/memoranda_2010/m10-08.pdf.

Posted January 18: The Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board decided to extend the deadline for recipient reports from January 15 to January 22 at midnight, PST.The extension has been put into place to give recipients more time to work with the recent changes made to the reporting process.For more information on the deadline extension and reporting requirements in general, please visit http://www.recovery.gov/FAQ/recipient/Pages/Recipient_Reporting.aspx.

PROGRAMS FUNDED BY THE ARRA

(Please click on a topic for a detailed information page. More detailed information about the following topics will be added as available.)

Community Development, Economic Development, and Housing

Transportation

Public Safety/Homeland Security

Environment,Energy, and Telecommunications

Other

Thanks to the California League of Cities for its assistance with the preparation of this Web page.