oversight

Review of the Distribution of Announcements of Funding Planning Targets and Certain Other Aspects of the Local Public Works Program

Published by the Government Accountability Office on 1977-10-25.

Below is a raw (and likely hideous) rendition of the original report. (PDF)

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rReview o0     the Distribution       of Announcements cf Funding Planning
Tarqets  a.  d  Certain      Other  Aspects of tha Local Public Works
Proqram . CED-77-139;           B-126652. October 25, 1977. beleased
November    1,   1977.   3  pp.

rkport to Rep.   Joseph         M.   MrcDade;   by   Botert   F.   Keller,   Acting
Compt rol er   eneral.

Issue Area: Federally Sponscred or Assisted Employment and
     Traininq Programs (3200).
Cou-tact: community and Economic Deve.cpment Div.
budq-t Fur.ction: General Go-trnment: legislativeW Functions
     (801), General Government: Executive Direction aind
     Manaaqement (802).
Orqanization concerned: Economic Development Administration.
conqresslinal Relevance: Rep. Joseph M. McDads.
Authority: Local Public Works Capital Development and Investment
     Act of 1976 (P.L. 94-369; P.L. 95-28).

           The Local Public Works Capital Devfcl¢ent and
Inivestmernt Act of 1976 authorized fundin     oaf $2 billion to make
qrants   to State and local governments tor constructing cr
renovatinq public tdcilities and an amendmert authorized an
  auditional $4 billion. Ir   distrihutirg the additional funds, the
  concmic Development Administration (ECA) made allccations to
the States and established planning targets fct substate areas
based primarily on unemployment statistics.
raininqs/Conclusiors: The Flanning targets estatlished for
Lackawanna County and the city of Scranton, Pennsylvaiia, were
developed in accordance with the agency's        .rocedures and were
calculated accurately. A Fede :al official asserted that
annicuncements ot the substatP area planning targets ware nct
prov;ded to a New Jersey priitical candidate days before the
scntedultd release date,    as alleged, kut it   would have been
ptssible    for a knowledgeable individual to have calculated
planr.inq        targets on his own.      In    reference to an alidgaticn that
announcements of planning targets      made available to
                                       mere                 maruers
or conqress of one political party ind the press befcre
information was provided to remaining Members, an official.
stated      that announcements        were hand delivered to as m-any Members
as time permitted and the remainder brcught tc house and Senate
aailioows. Pliority was given to chairmen ct committees involved
in proqram iegislation, then ranking minority memzbss or such
comilttees, and then to individual Members invclved-in program
 !.eqisliaion. In delivering announcements tc remaining Members,
Democratic party members were someti' e given     £reZerence in
keepinq with the practice during pricr administrations.
recommendations: The Assista.t Secretary for 1coneoic
 3evelopment shouid require that information regarding the
 opera .ion of EDA's programs should te distributed to Memters of
 ionqLtss        wlthout    regalrd to political      party.       (Author/HTW)
                                COMPTROLL-.    GENERAL OF THE UNITED STATES
                                              WASHINGTON. DC. U



            B-126652                                               October 2!,   1977
CO                     WdTRITIlED _ Net to be released eutlid Oh G-nml
     ,>4-               GAsoofningl Oft*e**xlt  on the basis of spe¢ie IPferopmt
     C~                             e
                       6~by the Offee   Genlre senra Roettiors
            The Honorable OJceph M. McDade
            House of Representatives
            Dear Mr. McDade;
                  Pursuant to your June 10, 1977, letter and subsequent agreements
            with your office, we reviewed the funoing planning targets established
            for Lackawanna County and the City of Scranton by the Department of
            Comnnerce's Economic Development Administration under the local public
            works program and the distribution of announcements of the planning
            targets. This report supplements the information provided to your cffice
            on June 24 and 30.
                 Also, your letter asked tnat we inquire into the policies and
            procedures the agency followed in allocating funds under the second round
            of the local public works program. We are currently reviewing the poli-
            cies and procedures the agency followed in round one of the program and
            plan to ihake a detailed review of its effectiveness. Our effectiveness
            review will Loircide with the completion of a sThstantial portion of the
            projects bfegun under round one. As we advised Fur office, we will in-
            clude in this review your concerns relating to the adequacy and fairness
            of the me;hod used by the agency in allocating funds under round two of
            the program.
                  The Local Public Works Capital Development and Investment Act of
            1976 (Public Law 94-369), enacted on July 22, 1976, authorized funding of
            $2 billion for a local public works program to make grants to States and
            local governments for 100 percent of the cost of constructing or renovat-
            ing public facilities. The 1976 act was amended oy Public Law 95-28 to,
            among other things, authorize an additional $4 billion for the program.
            In distributirg these adoitional moneys, the agency allocated funds to th-
            States and established planning targets for substate areas based primaril)
            or, numbers of unemployed and unemp.oyment rates.
                 Our review of the planning targets established for Lackawanna County
            and the City of Scranton showed that they were developed in accordance
            with the agency's procedures and were calculated accurately. We also
            verified the planning target. developed for two other counties and cities
                                                                                    CED-77-139
                                                                                      (06905)
B-126652


in Pennsylvania. The details concerning the procedures the agency
followed in establishing th:se planning targets were provided to your
office on June 30, 1977.
     Regarding the allegation that the announcements of the sub:;tcte area
planning targets were provided a candidate involved in the New Jersey
governor's race days before the scheduled release date, the Dep .y
Assistant Secretary for Economic Development Operations told us that, to
the best of his knowledge, the allegation was not correct. He pointed
out, however, that it would have been possible for someone knowledgeable
about the details of the prograni to have calculated planning targets on
his own.
     Regarding the agency's distribution of the announcements of the
substate area planring targets, it was alleged that the announcements
were made available to all Members of Congress of one political party
and the press before any information was provided to the remaining
Members of :ongress.
     An agency offic;al told us that on June 8, 1977, agency personnel
hand delivered planning target announcements to as many individual
Members of Congress as time would allow and that those which could not
be hand delivered were brought to the House and Senate mailrooms for
either pick up that day or delivery the following day. The official told
us further that in delivering the ennruncements, the following priority
order was followed
     --House and Senate chairmen of committees and subcommittees
       involved in program legislation;
     --ranking minority members of House and Senate cominmittees
       and subcommittees involved in program legislation; and
     --individual Members of Congress involved in program
        legislation, such as members of co:mittees and subcom-
       mittees, and others known to be highly interested in the
        program.
The official stated that in delivering the announcements to the remaining
Members of Congress, members of the Democratic party were given preference
in some instances. This, she said, was in keeping with the practice the
agency followed during prior administrations.
     The official stated that it should be noted that the planning target
information brought to the House and Senate mailrooms was available to
the individual Members, consequently she considered that the information


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B-26652


was available to every Member of Congress, regardless of party, on the
same day. She said that the agency did not make the information avail-
able to the press until the following day, June 9, 1977.
     According to the agency official, no records were mdintained on
either the napies or numbers of the Members of Congress to whom the
planning target information was hand delivered.
CONCLUSIONS
     Because of the lack of records showing who received hand delivery
of the planning target information, it is not possible to assess the
significance of the agency's actions. We believe the practice of giving
preference to one political party over another in distributing informa-
tion to individual Members of Congress is inherently unfair.
RECOMMENDATION
      Accordingly, we recommend that the Secretary of Commerce direct the
Assistant Secretary for Economic Development to require that information
regarding the operation of the Economic Development Administration's
programs be distributed to Members of Congress without regard to politi-
ca'l party.
AGENCY COMMENTS
     In commenting on our recommendation, the Assistant Secretary for
Economic Development stated that the agency will review its practices
and procedures to determine if changes are needed.


     This report contains a recommendation to the Secretary of Commerce.
As you know, section 236 of the Legislative Reorganization Act of 1970
requires the head of a Federal agency to submit a written statement on
actions taken on our recommendations to the House Conmittee on Government
Operations and the Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs not later
than 60 days after the date of the report and to the House and Senate
Committees on Appropriations with the agency's first request for appro-
priations made more than 60 days after the date of the report. We will
contact your office in the near future to arrange for release of the
report so that the requirements of section 236 can be set in motion.
                                  Sincerely yours,


                          ACTING ComptrOller General
                                  of the United S'ates


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