Inspector General Report
From: Department of Interior
Date: January 10, 2012
Re: Inspector General follows up on management of funding to Indian schools
Background: Interior Department officials recently checked to see if five recommendations that the agency’s Inspector General made in April 2010 had been implemented. The recommendations involved the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) management of Recovery funded programs for improving/repairing American Indian schools. BIA should:
- Obtain refunds of any advance payments to programs that later fail to adhere to specified terms.
- Ensure building repairs and improvements are funded enough to be fully completed and functional.
- Clarify the roles and responsibilities of those in charge of accountability and transparency of Recovery funds.
- Direct all tribes and contractors to post information about whistleblower protection on the project site.
- Consider using a secure, web-based project management system.
Findings: BIA had implemented all but the last recommendation, which BIA said would not be compatible with its firewall system; Interior officials concurred.
Results of a new study made possible by a Recovery Act grant may lead to longer-lasting hip implants.
Scientists had previously believed that naturally occurring proteins in the human body formed a lubricating layer on metal-on-metal hip implants. But a study conducted by an interdisciplinary team of physicians and engineers from the United States and Germany found that, in fact, the layer is composed of graphite carbon, and it works similarly to how a lubricant in a combustion engine does.
It’s still not clear what produces the graphite carbon in the body. But doctors and engineers working at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago and the University of Duisburg-Essen in Germany are confident that the results of the study, funded by a $670,000 Recovery grant from the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS), may lead to longer-lasting hip implants.
“This finding opens new avenues of investigation to help scientists understand how joint implants function, and to develop strategies to make them function better,” said NIAMS Director Stephen I. Katz.
Typically, hip implants last 10 years or so. Younger patients tend to need to undergo a second implant surgery when the first wears out so more durable implants would reduce the need for second surgeries.
The following post was written by Michael Wood, the Executive Director of the Recovery Board
Some argue that the federal government seldom does anything correctly.
I beg to differ.
On Monday, January 30, for the 10th consecutive reporting period, the Recovery Board will meet its legal requirement for posting spending data on Recovery.gov from recipients of Recovery Act funds. The data, contained in recipient reports, will cover the quarter ending December 31.
The Recovery Act requires recipients to report data each quarter. The process requires agencies to review the quality of recipient submissions, and then the Recovery Board publishes the data on Recovery.gov. The data is posted on the 30th day following the end of the quarterly reporting period — and I am proud to say we have always met that deadline, even when there were major obstacles in the early days of the program.
Although the exact numbers will be updated for posting on Monday, I can tell you now that we collected more than 170,000 quarterly reports from prime recipients and sub-recipients of Recovery awards. The job numbers will be lower than previous quarters, probably the result of the winter months and the slowdown in construction and the completion of more than half the Recovery awards.
The numbers indicate that most of the contracts, grants and loans, valued at $275 billion, have been awarded to recipients, although not all of the money has been spent.
On January 17, a newly built Indian Health Service (IHS) hospital began taking patients from the 9,300 Native Americans residing in the counties of Dewey, Haakon, Meade, Potter, Sully, and Ziebach in South Dakota.
The Cheyenne River Health Center, located in the north-central part of the state, was constructed using $84.5 million in Recovery funds from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The 138,000-square-foot facility replaces the former Eagle Butte IHS Hospital, which had become too small to serve the needs of the community.
IHS describes the new hospital as “a modern, technologically advanced facility with enough space and staff to provide an expanded level of health care services specifically designed to meet the needs of the Cheyenne River population.”
The Recovery Act provided a total $500 million through HHS/IHS for:
- Construction of priority health care facilities
- Maintenance and improvement of buildings
- Undertaking water and wastewater sanitation projects
- Purchase of critical medical equipment and health information technology
Recipient: Communication Service for the Deaf, Inc.
Award Amount: $14,988,657
The recipient reported that these Recovery funds would be used to:
- Provide subsidized broadband access for up to 16,000 low income deaf/hard of hearing individuals;
- Provide notebook computers or other connecting devices for up to 45,000 eligible individuals to assist them in accessing broadband services;
- And provide web-based contact center training and support services in English and American Sign Language. This training will focus on understanding broadband technology, web-based video communication services and accessing commercial, social and vocational support services on the internet.
As of October, 2010, the recipient reported they have completed the programming, equipment installation and training for a fully operational call center that can handle voice, video and web-based customer support calls. The recipient has launched a website to support Project Endeavor, which contains program information, training videos, and a map depicting locations of public access videophones across the country.
Project Status: Less than 50% complete
To see how funds were distributed between the project’s prime and sub recipients and to learn more about the project, check out the Award Summary or enter your zip code to find Recovery projects near you.
As part of the Department of Energy’s Recovery-funded efforts to accelerate the modernization of the country’s electric grid, approximately 9 million smart meters have already been installed in homes and businesses nationwide. Ultimately, DOE’s goal is to have 15.5 million installed.
Smart meters are available at no charge to home or business owners through participating utility companies except in states where a small Public Utility Commission-mandated fee applies. Contact your electricity provider for details.
Smart meters give consumers access to near real-time information about their energy consumption, allowing them to make better-informed decisions about their use of electricity. The meters also provide utility companies with greater information about how much electricity is being used. Smart meters are just one among many advanced technologies used by utilities to sense, monitor, control and automate the distribution of electricity, collect and exchange usage information with customers, manage power loads more efficiently and reduce cost.
While smart meters have been deployed in every state, nearly 90 percent of those installed to date are in Florida, Texas, California, Idaho, Arizona, Oklahoma, Michigan, and Nevada.
For more information about DOE’s smart grid activities visit the Smart Grid Website.
The first hybrid electric street sweepers in the nation are hitting the streets of Manhattan thanks to $690,000 of Recovery funding. Initiating a pilot program, a total of five of the new vehicles were delivered to the New York City Department of Sanitation this past fall.
Officials are expecting significant energy and environmental benefits:
- Standard sweeper burns 7,500 gallons of diesel fuel annually; hybrid uses about 5,000
- Fuel savings will total about $33,750 annually
- Carbon dioxide emissions will drop by 100 metric tons every year
City officials say that lessons learned from the pilot will help inform future street sweeper purchases and serve as a model for other jurisdictions around the country.
A youth activities center built with $7.5 million in Recovery funds is nearing completion at Hunter Army Airfield, at Fort Stewart, Georgia.
The shell and exterior of the facility were finished in June; since then, workers have been concentrating on the interior, particularly the framing and painting in addition to installation of the tile flooring, carpet, electrical wiring, ductwork, and doors.
The center will offer a range of physical, educational, and social activities, both indoor and outdoor for up to 135 children, ages 11 to 18. The facility includes a fully equipped gym as well as offices for counseling.
Tampa-based J2 Engineering Inc. is the prime contractor.
The laser from the high spectral resolution lidar (right) lights up the sky. The HSRL provides calibrated measurements of aerosol optical depth, backscatter, cross section, and depolarization. It was purchased through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
The micropulse lidar can also be seen on the left.
Picture courtesy of Jon Gero.
The Department of the Navy’s largest Recovery funded project is a new hospital under construction at Camp Pendleton on the California coast. When completed in January 2014, the hospital will support approximately 151,000 active duty and retired military personnel and their families.
The 500,000 square-foot facility will include:
- Inpatient services
- Emergency care
- Primary care
- Specialty care
The $394 million contract was awarded to the Costa Mesa firm Clark/McCarthy, which in turn has engaged the services of 49 sub-recipients. The new hospital replaces one constructed in 1969.
As of the end of September, 2011 work on the foundation, including installation of below-ground mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems, was complete. Workers are now erecting the structural steel for the seven-story building.