Recovery Act recipients should report on creation of “local jobs”

The Recovery Act contains a requirement that information about job created or maintained by recovery act be reported on a quarterly basis.  The OMB recently solicited comments on ways to “enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information” collected under the act.  Today TxLIHIS filed the following comments:

The Texas Low Income Housing Information Service is a non-profit with a mission to support low-income Texans’ efforts to achieve the American dream of a decent, affordable home in a quality neighborhood through researching and evaluating low-income housing and community development programs.  We offer the following comments regarding opportunities to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected under section 1512 of the Recovery Act.

Information reported by recipients of Recovery Act funds should include the census tracks of recovery-act funded employees to facilitate evaluation of the creation of jobs in the local communities served by the projects funded in the act.

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (the Recovery Act) states its purpose is “to preserve and create jobs and promote economic recovery,” and “to assist those most impacted by the recession.”  The Federal Office of Management and Budget, in a memo regarding implementation of the Recovery Act, stated “Departments and agencies should seek to maximize the economic benefits of a Recovery Act-funded investment in a particular community by supporting projects that seek to ensure that the people who live in the local community get the job opportunities that accompany the investment.” (Orszag, Peter R. “Updated Implementing Guidance for the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009,” OMB M-09-15, April 2009.)

Some agencies have implemented processes to encourage the creation of “local jobs.”  For example, many Recovery Act programs administered by HUD (e.g. NSP, CDBG) contain an explicit “Section 3” requirement that jobs created by federal financial assistance for housing and community development program be filled, if possible, by Low and Very-Low income persons in the area served by the program.

Other agencies, such as the Department of Energy in its Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP), have failed to explicitly incorporate the OMB’s guidance on the creation of local jobs in the program rules.

The current Section 1512 reports published on recovery.gov do not allow the public to evaluate progress on the creation of local jobs.

We request that the 1512 reporting requirements be expanded to include the census tract (or alternately, zip code,) of the home address of each person employed by a job created or maintained by Recovery Act funds.

This information will allow the public to evaluate the geographic dispersion of jobs created by the Recovery Act and provide the public oversight needed to ensure that the people who live in the local community get the job opportunities that accompany the investments in their communities.