Governor Patrick Focuses on Accountability and Transparency in Management of Expected Federal Recovery Funds
Governor taps experienced real estate professional to oversee investment of federal infrastructure funds, launches web site to promote transparency
BOSTON - Wednesday, February 11, 2009 - Anticipating the receipt of hundreds of millions of dollars in federal funds for statewide infrastructure projects, Governor Deval Patrick announced today that he has selected senior real estate professional Jeffrey A. Simon to lead the Administration's economic recovery infrastructure program. Governor Patrick has been preparing to maximize the Commonwealth's ability to create new jobs and lay a foundation for long-term economic growth.
To ensure that taxpayer-funded infrastructure projects are completed with integrity and openness, the Governor will implement a series of accountability and transparency initiatives, including a central website with complete information about every project that receives federal stimulus funding. Taken together, these announcements represent another important step forward in Governor Patrick's efforts to ensure that Massachusetts is fully prepared to benefit from the federal recovery package he has helped to shape.
"These investments are to rebuild Massachusetts and get people back to work," said Governor Patrick. "Jeffrey Simon's job is to assure that is done right, with transparency and accountability."
In December, Governor Patrick established Project Delivery Task Forces to prepare the Commonwealth for an infusion of federal funds through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act pending in Congress. Led by Lieutenant Governor Murray and members of the Governor's cabinet, the Task Forces were responsible for reviewing and further developing a preliminary list of "shovel-ready" projects, recommending next steps for expediting project delivery and taking advantage of this historic opportunity to not only create jobs but achieve longer term economic benefits for the Commonwealth.
"We received thousands of shovel-ready project submissions from across the Commonwealth," said Lieutenant Governor Murray. "It is obvious that there are significant infrastructure needs from the Berkshires to Boston and I am hopeful that these stimulus funds will help us address these needs, while creating good jobs."
The Task Force Chairs recommended the Governor appoint a Director of Infrastructure Investment to oversee the unprecedented investment effort. In his full-time position as Director, Simon will be responsible for coordinating, monitoring and assisting state agencies and municipalities in implementing projects consistent with the pending legislation and the Task Forces' recommendations.
Simon will also serve as the point of contact with the federal government and the public. Simon will also be responsible for working with agencies to ensure compliance with federal requirements and meeting expectations for transparency and accountability. The legislation is expected to include "use it or lose it" requirements, significant reporting and accountability provisions and a decentralized approach to distributing infrastructure funding to state agencies and municipalities.
Simon will begin his work this week and is expected to remain on the job for the period necessary to carry out the federal program. For his bio, please visit www.mass.gov/recovery.
"We are going to put people back to work building worthwhile projects to benefit us all. We will do this with openness, honesty and professionalism," said Simon. "I am grateful to Governor Patrick for giving me the opportunity to be part of this team and I am anxious to get started."
Accountability and Transparency
While the pending Federal Act presents a historic opportunity for the Commonwealth, it also presents many challenges, including the risk of mismanagement and waste. That is why the Governor today is also launching the Massachusetts Recovery and Reinvestment Plan website. This website is similar to the site proposed at the federal level and will list all stimulus contracts, the names of all bidders on stimulus contracts and progress reports of work carried out under those contracts. This central website will serve as the primary communication and reporting tool for the Commonwealth's implementation of the economic recovery infrastructure program.
Beginning tomorrow, the Task Forces' final report will be available to the public on this website. The report includes a list of projects submitted to the individual Project Delivery Task Forces as well as a smaller list of projects that have been reviewed by state agencies and preliminarily determined to be "shovel-ready." The lists will be pared down during further evaluation of their readiness and once President Obama signs the final stimulus bill dictating restrictions on project eligibility. The public may access the website at www.mass.gov/recovery.
In addition to using the website to shed light on the public bidding process, the Governor will support the efforts of the Attorney General, Inspector General and State Auditor to provide active project oversight and accountability and ensure that the public agencies responsible for carrying out this program do so with integrity.
"The federal stimulus package and the resulting infusion of infrastructure funds into Massachusetts will undoubtedly jump start our struggling economy. However, as we plan to spend billions of taxpayer dollars, it is critical that we establish oversight and compliance programs that will ensure accountability and transparency," said Attorney General Martha Coakley. "We look forward to working with the Governor and his Administration toward these goals."
"The Governor's plan establishes safeguards against wasteful spending, needless delays, and cost overruns in the expenditure of the federal stimulus funds," said Inspector General Gregory Sullivan. "Our priorities are fair competition, accountability, transparency, and integrity."
"I commend Governor Patrick for his leadership and his commitment to proper oversight," said State Auditor Joseph DeNucci. "I look forward to working with the Governor, Attorney General and Inspector General to ensure that all federal stimulus funds are spent legally, wisely and for the purposes intended. I will devote the necessary resources and the experience of my office to provide the accountability the people of Massachusetts deserve."