NAVIGATING “THE GREAT STIMILUS PACKAGE ROAD RACE”…WHERE IS THE ARRA GPS?

Do you have the GPS?   If you do, I am sure your colleagues will appreciate your willingness to share.  I know for certain, I would. 

 

It is obvious that the “ARRA road course” is still being built, informational and direction signs aren’t quite ready and there are hazards and perils to be dealt with along the way such as accountability and transparency.

 

My first attempt at becoming knowledgeable about “the course” was to use a search engine.  In February, Jessica Renee Napier of Converge Magazine reported that if you search the words “stimulus package” and “education” the result will be more than 14 million websites.  I added “higher” to the search and got considerably less but I still didn’t go beyond the second page.

 

I then decided to go directly to the source…The Department of Education.  The “good news” is that there is a wealth of information on ARRA.  The “bad news” is that there is a lot of information on ARRA.  The “worst news” is there isn’t a lot regarding ARRA for higher education.  I did find value in the Department of Education’s document “Saving and Creating Jobs and Reforming Education” which gives a good overview of the Act’s provisions and guidelines (link provided below).  Despite being 44 PowerPoint pages it is an easy read. The authors did a nice job of keeping with the “3 but no more than 5 bullet points” rule. But as with the other parts of the Department’s website, it is heavily K-12 focused. 

 

The overview does indicate the uses of State Fiscal Stabilization Funds for higher education:

 

·         Education and general expenditures;
·         Mitigating tuition and fee increases;
·         Modernization, renovation and repair of facilities used for instruction, research and student housing.

 

I would also suggest you review the reporting, accountability and transparency information.  It is eye opening.

 

The intent of these words was not to provide you with a “wealth” of information on ARRA for higher education.  Hopefully it does point to the “challenges” and “opportunities” the ARRA presents us with.  The opportunities are many but the one that is foremost in my mind is for higher education to employ one of its most powerful and unique traits…collegiality.

 

This is the first of a series of postings regarding stimulus funding.  But the real success of this thread is dependent on the sharing of information and best practices between you and your colleagues.  Today we have ways of collaborating that didn’t exist in previous periods of higher education reform.  I believe these new tools will be significant in meeting the “challenges” presented to us by this unprecedented opportunity.  I encourage you to post your blogs and comments.  You may be the catalyst to navigating the “Great ARRA Road Race.”

 

Sources that are worth a look…

 

Department of Education "Saving and Creating Jobs and Reforming Education" 
Document reference in paragraph 3.

 

Follow The Stimulus Money - Education Week
This is a cool site.  It provides graphical presentations of Overall Funding Progress, Details and Progress for the nation and states to include budgeted totals, obligated funds and funds that have been disbursed.  You can even see a state’s approved application for stabilization funding… which is really interesting if you happen to be a South Carolinian like myself.

 

Recovery.gov
This I would call the Federal Government’s “ARRA Information Central.”  It provides updates such as the Department of Education’s decision to accelerate disbursement of just over $11 billion dollars in stimulus funds.  Also, you can get granular details to include the recipients (vendors) of stimulus for projects. 

 

Stimulus Watchdog
This one sort of speaks for itself. 

 

I have to close now…got to check out ebay for a GPS. 

 

Ya’ll have a good day…

 

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