HomeBudget & Tax NewsReport: Tennessee Transparency Inadequate for Federal CARES Act Spending

Report: Tennessee Transparency Inadequate for Federal CARES Act Spending

(The Center Square) – A new report on transparency in Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF) spending placed Tennessee among the states with inadequate or no disclosure of its CRF spending.

The CRF was a section of the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act that gave states a combined $111.8 billion to cover COVID-19-related costs.

The report was produced by the nonpartisan nonprofit Good Jobs First, a Washington-based policy center that track subsidies and promotes accountability.

The report rated six states as having exemplary disclosure of CRF spending: Alabama, Georgia, Illinois, Michigan, Massachusetts and Wyoming. Twenty-seven states were classified as “some disclosure,” and 16 other states and the District of Columbia fell in the inadequate or no disclosure category with Tennessee.

“Recipient and vendor spending descriptions were of high importance to us, as they give constituents a detailed picture of how CRF money was ultimately spent,” the report said. “State pages with this information were treated as examples of good disclosure. States without spending websites or with websites with very little information were considered as poor disclosure.”

Tennessee has two websites: one from the Department of Finance and Administration and a CARES Act spending dashboard.

Because of those websites, Tennessee was credited with disclosing recipients of funds and agency/fund allocations but not for having a site that was easily accessible or including expenditure categories, spending descriptions, education data and health data.

The report said states now have a second chance to give a higher level of transparency with the American Rescue Plan Act, which includes the Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Fund Program that sent $350 billion to states.

Good Jobs First believes new reporting requirements for the ARPA spending could be included on state websites and would make a big difference in terms of transparency.

“Since states are already collecting this information to satisfy reporting requirements, they should provide this information on their own sites,” the report said. “The quarterly reports that states submit to the Treasury include the expenditure data available on websites and much more.”

Originally published by The Center Square. Republished with permission.

Jon Styf
Jon Styf
Jon Styf is a staff reporter for The Center Square.

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