Blame game: Recovery recipients miss deadline, and they’ll tell you why

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STIMULUS: Missing a first quarter award status deadline landed 17 Florida Stimulus recipients on a “non-compliant” list.

By William Patrick | Florida Watchdog

TALLAHASSEE — After failing to meet a required first quarter reporting deadline, two of Florida’s largest recipients of American Recovery and Reinvestment Act awards are trying to explain why.

As previously reported, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the Neighborhood Housing Services of South Florida missed their March 31 status deadlines, despite getting a combined $177 million more than three years ago.

“The report for the first quarter was inadvertently not submitted during the open submittal period, but the report is compiled,” Dee Ann Millner, spokeswoman for the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, said in an email.

DEP was awarded an $88 million grant in May 2009 for its revolving drinking water fund. The number of jobs created or saved by the funding was not reported at the end of last year, but DEP says that’s because local government information wasn’t yet available.

But according to the late first quarter 2013 filing, provided to Florida Watchdog by Millner, Stimulus funding created or retained only 26 jobs.

According to the report:

“For the current reporting period, the number of full-time employees reported was calculated, according to federal methodology, by dividing the number of hours worked on (Stimulus) sub award projects during the period, 13,533 by the available hours for one full-time employee, 520.”

Millner told Florida Watchdog that DEP is contacting the Environmental Protection Agency to determine how best to upload the data.

The Neighborhood Housing Services of South Florida was awarded an $89 million grant through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in February 2010. The funding was provided to acquire and rehabilitate foreclosed or abandoned housing units.

“The federal reporting system is technically correct and substantively incorrect,” Arden Shank, NHSSF president and CEO wrote in an email.  The reason our data was not there is because of them; their system was not functioning properly which mean (sic) we could not submit.”

NHSSF has since submitted its second quarter 2013 report and has created or retained 270 full-time administrative, clerical, construction and accounting jobs.

“The problem was not us; it had to do with the changes in the congressional districts,” said Shank.

In all, 17 Florida Stimulus recipients missed the deadline, landing them on a “non-compliant” list. This includes the Emperor Organization, which, as Florida Watchdog has reported, seems to exist in name only.

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