State lawmakers hope a new law on grants results in the recipients being more accountable. The law went into effect last July, so a few months of experience are accumulating. State Sen. Pam Althoff (R-McHenry) says the problem was that about 6 percent of the money the state handed out in grants could not be accounted for, according to both the auditor general and the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability, and it’s a big dollar amount: The state distributed $45 billion in grants last year, either with state money, federal money or a combination of the two.
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“We finally actually passed an act that is gonna require uniform standards when it comes to applying, and processing and then reporting on those grants so that we’re not losing any percentage of those dollars, and they actually are going for the purpose that they’re supposed to,” she said.
The money doesn’t necessarily walk away, it’s just that the state auditor can’t locate it. The law brings state grant procedures in line with federal standards, making it easier for recipients to comply, and establishes improved conflict-of-interest disclosure requirements.
The legislation, sponsored by State Sen. Dan Kotowski (D-Park Ridge) and State Rep. Fred Crespo (D-Hoffman Estates), was motivated by the Neighborhood Recovery Initiative, a program established in 2010 to fight street crime in troubled areas of the state. The auditor general issued a report last year that was critical of the program for its failure to keep track of where the money went, how recipients were determined, how they spent the money and what the results were.