Chattanooga Times Free Press
Georgia is one of 16 states undergoing bimonthly reviews to see how well it manages federal stimulus funds and, so far, it's generally following the guidelines, a report states.
"We put in a robust system to ensure that the money is spent the right way," said Bert Brantley, a spokesman for Gov. Sonny Perdue.
The report was released earlier this month by the federal Government Accountability Office. It looked at several areas -- Medicaid, highway funds, education, work force assistance, justice assistance, weatherization and public housing. For the most part, Georgia already had started allocating funds for those programs.
One area where it hasn't distributed money was in the weatherization program. "As of June 26, 2009, (the U.S. Department of Energy) had provided $62.5 million to Georgia, and the state had obligated none of these funds," the report states.
Shane Hix, spokesman for the Georgia Environmental Facilities Authority, said local agencies that provide weatherization assistance "will have to ramp up" to do the work paid for by stimulus funding.
"We expect to have these contracts signed with the community action agencies next week," he said Tuesday.
Mr. Hix said the U.S. Department of Energy is sending the full $125 million in weatherization stimulus funds in stages, so the state will incrementally send funds to local agencies.
Georgia has never spent so much on weatherization, he said, so officials had to be very careful in determining how to spend the federal money. The $62.5 million in stimulus funds distributed so far to the Environmental Facilities Authority is about $26 million more than the agency's entire budget in fiscal 2009.
The GAO report also states that Georgia "may have difficulty accounting for some Recovery Act funds," saying that state officials are working on corrective action plans to better account for the stimulus money.
Mr. Brantley said that, since the report was issued July 8, the state has launched a new Web site to help account for the funding.
Tennessee is not one of the 16 states getting bimonthly reviews from the GAO, according to Terri Russell, the office's eastern regional director.
But the 34 remaining states will get less-thorough reviews, she said. No timeline has been set for such reviews, but should be soon, she said.