Eckstrom seeking answers, solutions to stimulus oversight job

Comptroller General Richard Eckstrom journeys to Washington D.C . Wednesday for the National Governors’ Association meeting. The main purpose of the meeting is to exchange ideas for tracking stimulus funds. Officials from the White House and the Office of Management and Budget will be on hand. Eckstrom chairs the State Stimulus Oversight Task Force, created by Executive Order of the Governor. Eckstrom is concerned about the current system in which normal federal dollars and stimulus money are going directly to various state agencies and the Oversight Task Force has to go back and separate what is regular federal money from stimulus cash in order to keep a proper account of the various dollars. Eckstrom says he also wants to find out if any stimulus dollars are available for his task force to use to finance the oversight process.
“I am not going to go up there with my hand out saying give us some money to oversee. I do though intend, if there is that money available, to identify it because there may be occasions when we will incur some out of pocket costs just to satisfy a federal requirement.If the federal government has made some provision that we just don’t know about, I’d like to know.”
Superintendent of Education Jim Rex and State Department of Health and Human Services Director Emma Forkner are co-chairs of the S.C. Stimulus Oversight Task Force.
Eckstrom says he understands that some of the stimulus money going directly to state agencies can be used by those agencies for oversight and accountability.
“Like the U.S. Department of Education sending money to our State Department of Education saying part of the money that we are sending directly to you can be used for oversight and administration. That’s not money we understand can be used at the state level thou, that’s money that the Department of Education will be able to use.”
Eckstrom says his understanding is that none of that money flows to central state government to finance its general oversight responsibilities.
Eckstrom says unlike some officials from other states, he is not crying about unfunded mandates, he’s rolling up his sleeves with other members of the task force to get the job done. He says he thought it was important to place the heads of the 18 state agencies set to receive stimulus dollars on the Oversight Task Force.
“We’re doing this oversight on the cheap. That’s why I’m involving so many agencies because I’m assemb;ing resources from across state government so that we don’t have to spend additional dollars to keep up with this money. It’s an arduous task, yes. It requires a lot of people to do, yes. it requires some system changes, yes. But we’re trying to do it within our existing resources.”