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Glenn Hegar  ·  Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts

ARRA takes shape
Reporting guidelines emerge at state and federal levels

Originally Published in Statewise Fall 2009

Message from Fiscal Management

It’s often said that there's no such thing as a free lunch. And in the world of government accounting, there’s no such thing as federal (or state) funding without reporting requirements.

So while allocations from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) are providing a funding boost to many state agencies this biennium, the reporting requirements are presenting the usual challenges to accounting personnel: what needs to be reported, who is it reported to and how do we ensure that the data are accurate?

At this point, the answers to these questions are still evolving.

Advise and report

The 81st Texas Legislature established some state reporting guidelines in the General Appropriations Act (GAA) for the 2010-11 biennium. Under GAA guidelines, agencies are required to submit plans outlining their intended use of ARRA funds to the Legislative Budget Board (LBB) and the Governor's Office by Sept. 30.

A GAA reporting requirement also requires agencies to submit quarterly reports on expenditures of ARRA funds to a number of oversight agencies, including the LBB, the Governor’s Office, the State Auditor's Office and the Comptroller. Among other things, these reports will include an estimated number of jobs created or retained by the ARRA funding. The LBB will come up with a format for agencies to follow for the reports, which will be due Dec. 31, March 31, June 30 and Sept. 30.

Tune in tomorrow

While some guidance on reporting requirements has already been issued, much of the information is still in development, and no one is exactly sure when it will materialize. “ARRA is definitely a challenge in that respect,” says Phillip Ashley, assistant manager of Fiscal Integrity. “We need to move rapidly to take advantage of these funding opportunities, but a lot of the guidance is still forthcoming. We’re trying to compensate for any gaps in the guidance with good communication between all parties involved.”

In this regard, FM staff have been fortunate to work with such an outstanding group of state financial professionals. “We've really benefited from meeting with other oversight agencies to compare notes, but it has also been extremely helpful to talk with the agencies who are actually receiving the funding, because they sometimes learn things from their federal counterparts that they can then use to help us complete the picture,” Ashley says.

Of course, FM will continue to monitor federal and state ARRA requirements and communicate what we learn to all state agencies and institutions. Questions about the stimulus funds can be submitted to texas.stimulus@cpa.texas.gov, and we will continue to post the latest information on both FMX and the ARRA section of the Window on State Government website.

“This is a work in progress,” says Ashley. “We are committed to maintaining good communication with agencies, and we are committed to doing everything to meet these requirements in the most efficient way possible.” Meanwhile, we at FM want to thank our colleagues at state agencies and institutions for their continued cooperation and feedback. We appreciate your help in this partnership and look forward to continued dialogue in this ever-changing world of ARRA.

Glenn Hegar
Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts
Questions? Contact statewide.accounting@cpa.texas.gov
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