Federal executives will build on Recovery Act successes, report says

Vice President Joe Biden created the Recovery Implementation Office, which held semiweekly calls with various agencies. Vice President Joe Biden created the Recovery Implementation Office, which held semiweekly calls with various agencies. Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP

Many federal agencies will keep good habits they developed while spending stimulus money during the past three years, according to a new report from the IBM Center for the Business of Government.

In reviewing nine stimulus-funded programs, the IBM analysts identified a series of new and updated practices, including establishing special task forces, increasing oversight and encouraging interagency communication.

The decision to set tight deadlines while maintaining transparency, the authors said, was a driving force behind successful implementation of stimulus programs.

The 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act required that 70 percent of the original $787 billion in stimulus funding -- the total has since climbed to $840 billion -- be spent within 17 months on tax benefits; grants, loans and contracts; and entitlements. The bill passed in the first month of the Obama administration in 2009, leaving the burden of implementation to  career executives, as few political appointees were in place by that time. Spending will continue to be monitored and regulated until Sept. 30, 2013.

Many agencies created specific task forces whose sole responsibilities were to implement the Recovery Act funds. For example, the law required the Public Building Service to spend $5 billion by September 2010, marking a 400 percent increase in the office’s annual budget. The report stated the PBS task force was critical to bringing together regional offices and in determining how to allocate funds quickly and accountably.

As a central hub, Vice President Joe Biden created the Recovery Implementation Office, which held semiweekly calls with various agencies. This interagency communication encouraged the various task forces to discuss similar problems and solutions, according to the report.

The report also found that many agencies will continue to follow tighter deadlines to replicate the sense of urgency created by the Recovery Act. The deadlines forced federal executives to develop creative solutions and new ideas, as traditional structures could not have accommodated the fast-paced timeline written into the bill.

New technologies implemented by various agencies also could play a vital role in the future, the report suggested. For example, the Veterans Affairs Department used new tracking codes to monitor stimulus money. Progress was then publicized throughout the department, creating competition among federal employees that led to increased efficiency. The report pointed to Recovery.gov as a blueprint for future transparency efforts to allow the public to monitor federal spending in detail.

The report also suggested these tracking measures allowed federal executives to identify problems as they were happening, enabling fixes to be implemented immediately as opposed to post hoc changes suitable only for future endeavors.

The authors expect these strategies to continue to affect the daily routines of federal agencies, long after the stimulus funds have dried up.

“The application of these lessons in future arenas,” they wrote, “might become one of highest yielding investments made under the Recovery Act.”

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by G Suite

    Cross-Agency Teamwork, Anytime and Anywhere

    Dan McCrae, director of IT service delivery division, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

  • Data-Centric Security vs. Database-Level Security

    Database-level encryption had its origins in the 1990s and early 2000s in response to very basic risks which largely revolved around the theft of servers, backup tapes and other physical-layer assets. As noted in Verizon’s 2014, Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR)1, threats today are far more advanced and dangerous.

  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.