DENVER (AP) – Time is running out for Colorado to spend millions of dollars in federal stimulus funds.
State auditors said Tuesday that 10 state agencies could lose about $93.7 million in stimulus funds if they don’t use the money before the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds expire.
The stimulus funds expire on Sept. 30, 2012, but some agencies have gotten extensions to spend the grant money. The Governor’s Energy Office, the state Department of Education, and the Department of Labor and Employment are among the agencies with unspent funds, as are University of Colorado at Boulder and Colorado State University.
Auditors looked at agencies that have spent less than 75 percent of the grant money they were awarded.
“There is a risk that some state agencies will be unable to spend the grant funds by the federal deadlines and will be required to revert funds back to the federal awarding agencies,” according to a memo from auditors.
Grants include nearly $1.5 million to the Lieutenant Governor’s Office for an early childhood education program and about $9.6 million for the Governor’s Energy Office for energy efficiency and conservation projects.
The Department of Education also has grants for $17.4 million to implement data systems to track student achievement and teacher effectiveness, and nearly $2.3 million to enhance public access to computers at libraries that serve low-income populations.
The agencies told state auditors that they plan to spend the money in time. Reed Rowley, the director of the Governor’s Office of Economic Recovery, said state officials are working with agencies “to make sure that no funds are returned to the U.S. Treasury.”
Jonathan Trull, Colorado’s deputy state auditor, told lawmakers that his office did not audit how the programs or projects that received grants are working and that the memo served only as an update on unspent stimulus money.
Sen. Lois Tochtrop, a Democrat who chairs the legislative audit committee, said while free, one-time money is good, she added that “nothing is ever free because the cost of implementation and administration.”
“It creates a burden in many cases,” she said.
– By Ivan Moreno, AP Writer
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