On March 3, Sen. Althoff thanked her colleagues for their dedication to developing a comprehensive grant reform solution.
Grant reform is finally a reality, as lawmakers announced the implementation plan of the Grant Accountability and Transparency Act (GATA) on March 3 in Springfield. After years of fiscal mismanagement, lawmakers from both parties came together to create a national model that implements uniform guidelines and standards to increase transparency and accountability in the administration of federal and state grants, said Senator Pamela Althoff (R-McHenry).
“This legislation strengthens accountability and transparency for the funding of programs provided by and through the State of Illinois, which accounts for approximately 72% of the total General Revenue fund budget,” said Sen. Althoff.
House Bill 2747, or GATA, was the product of the Illinois Single Audit Commission created in July 2013 under House Bill 2, sponsored by Sen. Althoff to develop a coordinated, non-redundant process for oversight of grant recipients.
This Commission was a response to several reports of waste and abuse in recent grant programs—most scathing of them being former Governor Pat Quinn’s $50 million Neighborhood Recovery Initiative (NRI) that was proposed in 2010 as a way to “combat violence” in Chicago; however, the grant money was not directed to many of Chicago’s most dangerous neighborhoods, Quinn relied on Chicago alderman when picking what organizations would receive money, and there is no evidence that it was effective in preventing violence.
The lack of accountability and transparency in the NRI program is just one example of how taxpayer dollars were spent irresponsibly. As a member of the Commission, Sen. Althoff worked extensively with her legislative colleagues Sen. Dan Kotowski (D-Park Ridge), Rep. Patti Bellock (R-Mokena) and other Commission members such as Carol Kraus from the Illinois Department of Human Services to develop legislation that would address inefficiencies and fraud in the administration of federal and state grants.
In the Illinois State Budget there are 462 individual grant appropriations, ranging from $400.00 to $4.5 billion. The Illinois Single Audit Commission concluded that of the estimated $45 billion in total grant appropriations, 6 percent of total revenues are lost to fraud, waste and abuse. GATA addresses current policy by focusing on program outcomes, reducing costly redundant administrative burden, increasing efficiency, establishing uniform guidelines, optimizing resources and assisting grantees in implementation.
“Illinois is the only state in the country that has adopted legislation that requires a comprehensive set of standards that enforces accountability and transparency throughout the entire grant process,” said Sen. Althoff. “In the words of Carol Kraus, ‘GATA improves the integrity of the financial management and operation of State and Federal pass-through grant programs.’”
The Grant Accountability and Transparency Unit is working with the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules (JCAR) to adopt rules for Federal and Federal pass-through grants by July 1, 2015.