Wednesday, August 18th, 2010 - 7:38
Wednesday, August 18, 2010 - 07:25
The first in a series of posts in which state officials share what they've learned about government programs, performance and spending from their Recovery Act experiences.
Eileen McNulty, Deputy Accountability Officer (photo at right), has a key role in guiding performance reporting for Pennsylvania's stimulus dollars.
To McNulty, one of the missteps in the way the Recovery Act has played out stems from an imbalance in reporting requirements. There were five goals for the act, but rigorous reporting requirements were really focused on only one goal: job creation. “While the Recovery Act was supposed to create jobs, it was also supposed to create value in terms of long term investment and it was supposed to alleviate the impact of the recession on people who were specifically affected,” she says.
In its own performance reporting, Pennsylvania has tried to spell out the ways stimulus money has affected all the different goals of the act. But that’s far from typical.
“There is a lesson that can come out of this,” she says. “When you have a program with five overarching goals, it may be a mistake to require reporting on just one. That causes people to focus on the one goal to the exclusion of the others.”
For anyone who needs a refresher on what the other goals of the act are, the list is provided high up in the introduction to Pennsylvania’s own “Performance & Outcome Measures” document (available through the accountability tab at the top of the stimulus website.) And by the way, if any of these sound only vaguely familiar to you -- like something you recall from a dream -- then that just proves that they haven't gotten the attention they deserve. They are:
- To preserve and create jobs and promote economic recovery.
- To assist those most impacted by the recession.
- To provide investments needed to increase economic efficiency by spurring technological advances in science and health.
- To invest in transportation, environmental protection, and other infrastructure that will provide long-term economic benefits.
- To stabilize state and local government budgets, in order to minimize and avoid reductions in essential services and state and local tax increases.