Congress Requests Details On Infrastructure Spending

The U.S. Congress sent more than 450 letters today to governors, transit agencies, and metropolitan planning organizations requesting they detail how they will use funds from the recently passed American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 in yet another attempt to keep an eye on spending.

The Chairman of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, the Subcommittee on Highways and Transit and the Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment are pledging vigorous oversight of funds distributed under the recently enacted recovery bill.

U.S. governors have 45 days to certify how infrastructure funds they accept will create jobs, how their states will maintain current spending, that they have given the projects under the funds full review, and the purpose and rationale of the projects.

James Oberstar, (D-MN) Chairman of the House of Representatives Infrastructure Committee, said in a statement the demand for many details “should come as no surprise.”

“The Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure will closely oversee the implementation of transportation and infrastructure provisions of the Recovery Act to ensure that the funds provided are invested quickly, efficiently, and in harmony with the job-creating purposes of this Act. To this end, we request that you provide specific certifications and transparency and accountability information within 45 days of the date of enactment of the Recovery Act (April 4, 2009),” the letters read in part.

The committee will hold an oversight hearing in April on how the $40 billion for highway, transit and water infrastructure programs in the bill have been spent.

Obama created the website Recovery.gov as part of a pledge to keep citizens updated of how the stimulus dollars are spent and more than a dozen states have followed suit.

The Stimulus Package has included strict “use it or lose it” provisions in the hopes that the states will pump dollars quickly into infrastructure projects. They must commit half of their bridge and highway funds to projects within 120 days or the money will be taken back and allocated to another state.

Greg Sitek

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