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Murphy's Law: Get Your Stimulus On

April 13, 2009
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Mike Murphy

If you happen to be an unregistered voter in the United States, you probably didn’t vote in the recent presidential election. OK, perhaps no great loss, depending upon your perspective. However, if you are an unregistered contractor with the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA), which was signed into law on Feb. 17, it could certainly be a great loss.

Why? Only contractors who are registered at www.recovery.gov will have the opportunity to be involved with projects resulting from the new ARRA.

Here is some of what you could be missing out on (thanks to Charlie McCrudden of Air Conditioning Contractors of America for encapsulating the benefits to the HVAC industry):

ARRA Authorized Spending:
• $5.5 billion high-efficiency federal building construction;

• $5 billion for low-income homes Department of Energy weatherization program;

• $3.2 billion for energy-efficient renovation projects in block grants to state and local governments;

• $2.3 billion for energy-efficiency upgrades for Housing Urban Development (HUD) programs.

ARRA Authorized Bonds:
The stimulus bill created new bonding authority for states and local governments to use the proceeds on a variety of projects:

• $11 billion in bonds for school renovation and refurbishment for 2009 and 2010;

• $5 billion in 2009 and 2010 bonds for school construction;

• $4.3 billion tax credit bonds for government building upgrades;

• $2.4 billion qualified energy conservation bonds.

If you happen to browse the recovery Website, don’t be surprised if the numbers mentioned above are wrong. In fact, many industry associations and forward-looking manufacturers, in an effort to help their members and customers, have developed sites to better define the funding - but those numbers don’t always jive either. Perhaps it comes as no real surprise because interpretations vary and this thing has been a moving target from its inception.

PLAYING THE ARRA GAME

The ARRA was passed to stimulate the economy through an injection of $787 billion in federal spending. Over the next 12 months, federal, state, and local governments must commit to and start construction or improvements of infrastructure projects to qualify. The basis of the stimulus program is speedy construction of public infrastructure through a combination of grants, loans, loan subsidies, loan guarantees, and tax incentives. The timetable is fast. By May 20, 2009, federal agencies will begin reporting their competitive grants and contracts. By July 15, recipients of federal funds will begin reporting back on their use of the funds.

Different Washington, D.C., agencies will determine who will receive grants and contracts. Sometimes the money will go to a state or local government, and sometimes directly to a school, hospital, contractor, or other organization. Here is how the $787 billion will be spent according to the language of the stimulus bill: (thanks to W. Randall Rawson of American Boiler Manufacturers Association for sorting this out).

• $288 billion - tax relief (36.6 percent of the total amount). This is not direct funding; it is after-the-fact reimbursement through the federal tax code.

• $144 billion - state and local fiscal relief (18.3 percent of total).

• $111 billion - infrastructure and science (14.1 percent of total). Lots of military opportunities here through Department of Defense.

• $81 billion - protecting the vulnerable (10.3 percent of total).

• $59 billion - health care (7.5 percent of total).

• $53 billion - education and training (6.7 percent of total). This includes $39.5 billion to local school districts using existing funding programs, which can be used for modernization, as well as for preventing cutbacks or layoffs. Also, $8.8 billion to states with high priority needs for modernization, renovation and repairs of schools.

• $43 billion - energy (5.5 percent of total).

• $8 billion - other (1 percent)

All individuals, businesses, foundations, and governmental entities wanting to contract with the federal government must register at the Central Contractor Registration site, www.ccr.gov. Once registered, interested parties may search for federal contracting opportunities and assistance awards. A registrant must provide a Data Universal Numbering System (DUNS) number, a federal Tax Identification Number (TIN) or an Employer Identification Number (EIN).

Those wanting to contract with state governments should click the link for State Recovery Sites within the www.recovery.gov pages.

Resources for this article: www.bellgosset.com, www.acca.org, www.recovery.gov, www.ccr.gov, and W. Randall Rawson, president/CEO American Boiler Manufacturers Association.

Publication date: 04/13/2009
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