Wednesday, June 2, 2010

The U.S. Department of Education Responds to Our Complaint

Last summer, I wrote to the federal government to file a complaint regarding how the state of California was using federal stimulus dollars. My concern was that federal recovery money (ARRA) dedicated to higher education was being spent by the state for other purposes. Moreover, I argued that the state was failing to follow the federal mandate of protecting jobs.

On May 27th, I received the following response from the feds:
“This is in response to the complaint that you submitted to the U.S. Department of Education’s (Department) Office of the Inspector General’s Hotline on July 11, 2009. Your complaint indicated that California reduced its support for higher education upon receiving Federal stimulus funds. You further indicated that the University of California used the State’s reduction in support to justify a “fiscal emergency” that would “allow the UC President to impose furloughs, salary reductions, and layoffs.” The Department encourages public universities to use funds awarded under the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund (SFSF) program to avert layoffs and maintain essential educational services. We recognize that some States are reducing their support for education after receiving SFSF funds. Please be assured that the Department is thoroughly reviewing State financial data to ensure that each State meets the statutory maintenance-of-effort provisions. We will continue to monitor California’s support for education to ensure that the State is complying with those provisions. While we appreciate the concerns that you have expressed, the information you provided does not indicate any violation of the applicable statutory requirements.”

I guess I should be happy that I got a response to my inquiry, but the larger question remains of what the state and the UC did with the ARRA money. It still remains unclear how much ARRA money actually made it to the campuses, and I have asked the state auditor to follow the money trail. To be continued . . .

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