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North Dakota could provide more details about CARES Act spending

North Dakota has a website that shows how money from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act is spent but the state does not give enough details on the funding’s recipients, according to a new report.

The nonprofit Good Jobs First analyzed how states were tracking Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF) spending and providing information to the public.

CRF relief was provided to states through the CARES Act, which was signed into law in March 2020 by President Donald Trump. The $2.2 trillion package allotted $111.8 billion for emergency assistance to state governments and the District of Columbia.

Six states were highlighted as doing an “exemplary” job in the Good Jobs First report: Alabama, Georgia, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan and Wyoming.

“As we’ve documented, most states are doing a middling to poor job of disclosing their uses of CARES Act CRF funds,” the report’s authors said.

States were analyzed based on whether they had a website for residents to access information about CARES Act spending, how easy that information was to find, whether recipients of the money were listed and whether information was available on how recipients spent the money. The states also were scrutinized on whether data about health and education spending was included.

States were assigned to one of three categories: exemplary, some disclosure and inadequate or no disclosure.

North Dakota fell short of exemplary because of its lack of information on how recipients spent the money.

“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 authors said in the report. “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.”

North Dakota was credited for having other information about its CARES Act spending. The state’s website has a dashboard that shows how much has been spent and lists the amounts that have gone to each recipient.

The authors of the report made several recommendations to improve transparency, including requiring governments to post their quarterly reports to the U.S. Treasury on an easily accessible website since states already are collecting the information anyway.

“Our hope is that states with sub-standard CRF disclosure improve their practices in preparation for their next transparency challenge: informing the public on how they use the $195 billion in state aid from the Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Fund, a provision of the 2021 American Rescue Plan Act,” the report’s authors said.

This article was originally posted on North Dakota could provide more details about CARES Act spending

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