Stimulus money has created 55 L.A. city jobs

Wait, it gets worse: The city has received $111 million in federal funding. Seems like that would be good for a lot more than 55 jobs. Two audits by City Controller Wendy Greuel confirms what we already knew about L.A. government's inability to do most anything effectively or efficiently. The audits look at two city departments receiving the most federal money: the Department of Public Works and the Department of Transportation. There's no evidence that the money was actually misspent, but the process of getting projects up and running has turned out to be outrageously slow. From the press release:

--DPW's policies need to be strengthened in order to ensure transparent and accurate tracking of [American Recovery and Reinvestment Act] funds and related expenditures.

--The Department's process for using work orders for ARRA projects makes it difficult to distinguish between ARRA-related expenditures and expenditures using City funds.

--Billing costs for reimbursement are not always submitted in a timely manner and did not always include all costs. In addition, the Bureau of Sanitation's negotiated agreements for storm water projects stipulate quarterly-- not monthly--billing.

--DPW's existing processes may not be sufficient to expend funds quickly and promote job creation and stimulate the economy.

--Some of the Department's ARRA-funded projects have taken many months to award contracts and start construction, meaning the local economy is not impacted immediately, which was the initial goal of ARRA.

The big problem, it seems, is that a cumbersome bureaucracy not accustomed to expediting anything found itself with a bunch of found money, but still having to navigate existing rules. That process takes lots of time even under normal circumstances, and runs counter to the purpose of the federal stimulus. In other words, city bureaucrats never got the memo.

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Mark Lacter
Mark Lacter created the LA Biz Observed blog in 2006. He posted until the day before his death on Nov. 13, 2013.
Mark Lacter, business writer and editor was 59
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