President Obama signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (the “Stimulus Act”) on February 17, 2009, providing $787 billion to create and maintain jobs and to spur economic growth. Of the total, tax relief accounts for $212 billion. The other $575 billion will be disbursed by Federal agencies through construction and other contracts and grants to state and local governments and nonprofit organizations. The Stimulus Act allocates specified amounts to named Federal agencies for designated programs and activities.
The day after the Stimulus Act became law, the Office of Management and Budget (“OMB”) issued its Initial Implementing Guidance (the “Initial Guidance”) to Federal agencies that will receive stimulus funds. The Initial Guidance provides the agencies with direction on planning for and authorizing contracts and grants. Like the Stimulus Act itself, the Initial Guidance emphasizes transparency and accountability. Federal agencies will be required to make available a wealth of information about their plans for spending stimulus funds and about the effectiveness of the spending.
The Initial Guidance also includes important information for companies and nonprofits that want to obtain stimulus-funded contracts and grants. They will want to keep track of agency planning and inform themselves of the criteria that will guide awards and the special provisions designed to make stimulus spending transparent and accountable. The chief tool for tracking this information is the OMB-maintained website www.recovery.gov.? This site will give the public access to stimulus information submitted by the agencies to OMB. In addition, each agency will dedicate a portion of its website to stimulus planning and spending. Recovery.gov provides a link to each affected agency’s website.
Similarly, in an effort to ensure full transparency and accountability, Gov. Brad Henry ordered the creation of a state Web site to help track the use of Oklahoma stimulus funds. This site will provide the citizens of Oklahoma access to clear and concise information about the federal stimulus initiative.
The Stimulus Act presents tremendous opportunities for those who keep informed and act quickly to identify ways to participate in Federal and state stimulus spending. But the stimulus contracting process will be complex, as will be the accountability and other requirements for those receiving stimulus funds. The Initial Guidance is only the first of what likely will be several Federal and state stimulus-related pronouncements.
Huddleston Law Offices can assist clients in identifying key opportunities and challenges presented by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 and related administrative policies.