NH Department of Education fails to report stimulus records
By Grant Bosse
CONCORD, New Hampshire: The New Hampshire Department of Education failed to report on $47 million in federal stimulus money by the First Quarter deadline, placing it among the top ten projects on a federal list of stimulus “Non-reporters”. Data compiled from the Recovery.gov list of non-reporters for the First Quarter of 2010 shows that recipients of nearly $1.2 billion in federal stimulus money hadn’t reported on how they’ve spent the money by the time federal overseers disclosed the reports.
This $47 million lack in transparency is by far the largest New Hampshire recipient to fail to live up the reporting requirements of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Other Granite State “Non-reporters” include the New Hampshire Electric Co-op didn't report their $15 million spending and Rockingham County failed to report $641,000. Overall, New Hampshire recipients failed to report on $64.7 million in stimulus funds by the April deadline. The Student Conservation Association, based in Charlestown, failed to report on seven stimulus grants by the First Quarter deadline, totaling $604,000.
The Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board oversees stimulus distribution and reporting and its spokesman, Ed Pound, said the reporting requirements lack teeth.
“(Recipients) are required to comply with the law,” he said. “But there are no direct penalties if they don’t report. That’s why we ask reporters and the general public to use our website and check on the information.”
Paul Leather, Director of the Division of Adult Learning and Rehabilitation at the New Hampshire Department of Education, blames a computer error at the federal Department of Education.
“The employee responsible for sending the report uploaded it, but didn’t wait for confirmation that it had been received,” Leather explains. “But the Department of Education website crashed, and we didn’t know that our report had never gone through until after the filing deadline.”
Soon after the deadline, New Hampshire resubmitted all of its required paperwork, Leather said.
Recovery.gov shows that the $47 million was given to the state and local education agencies to assist children with disabilities in receiving “access to a free appropriate public education.”
Kevin Hamilton, Vice President for Communications with the Student Conservation Association, said his organization is now in compliance with the law as well.