Paul Posner, Director of the Public Administration Program at George Mason Univ and President of the American Society of Public Administration discussed the management challenges of sending money (the stimulus funds) through the Federal to State and Local government grantinging channels. Lots of built in accountability problems requiring trust in the state or county stakeholders. Awareness of the partnership risks that come with goal conflicts and the temptations of fiscal windfalls means the entities (fed, state, local) need to be aware of differing priorities and be prepared for public accountability.
What does it take?
+accountability starts at the micro level, the front end, with field managers
+funding recipients need to take responsibility and ownership of the accountability and performance requirements
+design incentives into the funding stream, e.g. that entities share in savings gained from front-end fraud prevention and regular audits.
A change in business as usual?
Previously tracking the federal funds stopped at the state level. Now the money is tracked right down to the state and local level.
+Avoid self-defeating micro-management
+Manage national expectations and obtain state and local government ownership of the funded programs (i.e. The Recovery Act won’t be there forever.)
+Achieve results without imposing misplaced precision
+Challenge managers to manage public expectations
+Reconcile the competing frames of reference
Stan Czerwinski, Director, Intergovernmental Relations, U.S. Government Accountability Office
outlined GAO’s role.
Recovery Act requires looking at funds from collaborative perspectives.
+federal flow of recovery act funds is now state and local governments’ major source of revenue
+the locals deliver the funds forward, but if the state and local governments aren’t up to the task, because of lack of infrastructure, knowledge, staff or controls, the program fails.
I suggested the GAO set up a wiki and a blog for the downstream (state and local) spenders of Recovery Act funds. Surely it is a community that needs a collaborative space to share best practices.