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Morning Cup: Not Enough Money for Stimulus Auditors

benderbending/Flickr; Krista Kjellman/ProPublicaThis is the latest roundup from our stimulus blog.

After months of layoffs and hiring freezes, many states might not be able to ensure adequate oversight of the $280 billion they'll spend in stimulus money, the Government Accountability Office reports this morning. Despite the infusion of cash, the economic recovery act didn't include additional money for state auditors. Colorado officials told the GAO they were concerned because a suburban Denver county recently terminated its internal auditor while Mississippi said lack of funding prevented it from establishing a stimulus office.

Some in Congress are pushing for help. The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee will take up the topic today at a hearing on stimulus progress.

In other auditing news, Pennsylvania's auditor general is blowing the whistle on "the potential for a lack of statewide government transparency and accountability" with stimulus money. The auditor, Jack Wagner, is considering a run for governor in 2010.  

Other highlights from today's GAO report: About two-thirds of the stimulus money spent by states this fiscal year will be for health programs, mainly increased Medicaid assistance. Some positive impact: New Jersey was able to retain health insurance for some children who would have been cut off. Transportation and infrastructure projects are expected to make up the majority of the spending in later years.

As we noted last week, Illinois has received approval for the more highway projects and funding than any other state so far. But a new congressional report says that even though Illinois has gotten the green light on more than $600 million, as of March 31, only five projects had actually started. The discrepancy is most likely a result of the contracting process. The state had nearly 150 projects out to bid. Neighboring Indiana had begun work on the most projects with 33.

Project of the day: $81,000 to replace a deteriorating carpet and repaint a potable water tank at Whiskeytown recreation area in California. "Potable water." Right.

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