Colorado seeks help in tracking stimulus funds
DENVER, Colorado ” State officials say Colorado’s system is too outdated and understaffed to adequately monitor the billions of stimulus dollars from the federal government, so they’re seeking help from Washington.
States are required to closely track funds distributed under the $787 billion federal stimulus package and the jobs created by the spending.
Colorado officials say they’re dealing with a clunky 18-year-old database system and depleted staffs of auditors and procurement employees across state and local agencies. It’s unclear whether states can use stimulus money to add administrative staff and upgrade information systems.
Gov. Bill Ritter’s economic-recovery team has visited Washington to ask for financial help and guidance.
“What you have with this stimulus program is that it’s huge, fast and new,” said Don Elliman, the state’s economic development director who’s leading Colorado’s stimulus-fund tracking efforts. ” The accounting is a problem, but we’re going to find our way around it.”
State officials are scrambling to put together a separate accounting system to track dollars entering Colorado, whether it’s money flowing directly from the federal government to a local federal office or federal funds going straight to local governments.
Most of Colorado’s $3 billion-plus share will flow directly to the state, but as much as $500 million could bypass it. Elliman said the state must find a way to document those funds, too.
manually compile their own expense information. But to effectively track the money, the data must be centralized.
Elliman and others say it would cost tens of millions of dollars to replace the state’s accounting system. They’re exploring a separate, less expensive computerized system to track the stimulus funds.