Obama warns contractors: Report ARRA money or else

The president says contractors failing to report information must be held accountable by all agencies to the fullest extent of the law

In a memo, President Barack Obama today told agencies to intensify their pressure on contractors to file reports on how they're using money from the economic stimulus law.

For contractors who don’t file reports on their use of that money, agencies should consider ending the contract, and work to suspend or debar those companies from getting any more government contracts. If necessary, agencies should even initiate punitive actions, according to the memo.

“Any prime recipient that has failed to report is not living up to the standards set by my administration and must be held accountable by all agencies to the fullest extent permitted by law,” Obama wrote in the memo.

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Contractors are required to file how much money they have received and spent, a list of projects funded by the money, including location and expected completion date, and the jobs associated with each project. They are to submit the information at FederalReporting.gov.

Obama also wants agencies to notify authorities quickly about contractors that don’t comply with the rules. Agency officials are to report the identities of non-compliant prime contractors to the Office of Management and Budget, specifying how they responded to each instance of noncompliance, the memo states.

Obama told OMB to review its own guidelines on what agencies are responsible for when faced with a non-compliant contractor. The new guidance may include new ways to get companies to file their reports, the memo states.

“My administration is committed to transparency in tracking recovery dollars and to elimination of waste, fraud, and abuse by recipients of hard-earned taxpayer dollars,” Obama wrote.

On the same topic, Vice President Joe Biden this morning visited Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board Chairman Earl Devaney and the twelve inspectors general who make up the board to discuss the memo and inspect the board’s fraud detection center.

“We are here to send an unambiguous message that not reporting is not acceptable,” Biden said during the meeting. “These are public funds, taxpayer funds.”

Biden also said he hopes the law's reporting requirements would become a template for future spending programs.

About the Author

Matthew Weigelt is a freelance journalist who writes about acquisition and procurement.


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