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Back to Archives | Back to March 2010 Contents 

Chief's Counsel

Recovery Act Compliance—No Simple Matter

Brennan C. McCarthy, Associate County Attorney, Prince George’s County, Maryland

s counsel to law enforcement agencies, attorneys are presented with significant challenges that vary with time and are becoming increasingly complex. Nothing serves to demonstrate this trend better than the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (the Recovery Act), signed into law on February 17, 2009, by President Obama.

As part of this law, a large number of new grant programs, administered by the Department of Justice (DOJ), Office of Justice Programs (OJP), have become available to local law enforcement agencies. Given the present economic climate, the wish to become a grant recipient in regard to these programs is obvious. A comprehensive list of the programs is available on the DOJ’s Web site.1

Yet agencies and their counsel should not enter into a grant program without weighing the significant risks associated therewith. The Recovery Act itself is dense, complex, and administered through various federal agencies. As part of the compliance measures associated with the Recovery Act, any local law enforcement agency must adhere to the reporting requirements that are separately listed by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), and DOJ grants are no exception.2

Section 1512 of the Recovery Act requires reports on the use of Recovery Act funding by grant recipients to be submitted no later than the 10th day after the end of each calendar quarter, with the first quarter having ended on September 30, 2009, and the second on December 31, 2009. The report must include the total amount of funds received and, of that, the amount spent on projects and activities; a list of those projects and activities funded by name that includes a description of the project and the completion status of the project; and estimates of the jobs created and/or retained as a result of the funds received.3

More information about compliance and reporting obligations can be found at, which provides the Web portal for registration and management of accounts, submission of reports, viewing and commenting on reports if the user represents a federal agency or prime recipient, and updates and corrections to reports when appropriate. Consequences for failing to comply with the reporting requirements under the Recovery Act are significant and can include withholding funds, termination, or suspension and debarment, as appropriate—all by determination of the awarding agency. Therefore, care should be taken to build an appropriate relationship with OJP contacts, and each report should be carefully prepared to meet the requirements of the act to avoid any adverse action that could affect future awards to a law enforcement agency.

Agencies would be wise to ask counsel to review all component parts of grant applications, match requirements, and awards and authorization to ensure that the agency is in compliance. Legal advisors should particularly review for legal sufficiency any documents intending to distribute funds to subrecipients to ensure that any such redistribution meets grant requirements. Likewise, reports submitted back to DOJ should be scrutinized for completeness and accuracy.

This column is written by members of the Legal Officers Section. Readers are strongly encouraged to read, analyze, and understand the cases cited herein, and confer with their legal advisors. This synopsis does not constitute legal advice or the practice of law. ■


1Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Assistance, “Recovery Act: OJP’s Information Related to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009,”; also see and (accessed February 19, 2010).
2On June 22, 2009, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) issued “Implementing Guidance for the Reports on Use of Funds Pursuant to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.” The guidance consists of a 39-page paper of questions and answers, and two supplements. The first supplement is a list of programs subject to recipient reporting. (The Department of Justice [DOJ] is working with OMB to fix the incorrect DOJ program listings.) The second supplement is the recipient reporting data model v 2.0.1. The three documents are linked to the DOJ Web site. Please e-mail questions to
3The full requirements for reporting can be found at February 19, 2010

Please cite as:

Brennan C. McCarthy, "Chief's Counsel: Recovery Act Compliance—No Simple Matter," The Police Chief 77 (March 2010): 12, (insert access date).



From The Police Chief, vol. LXXVII, no. 3, March 2010. Copyright held by the International Association of Chiefs of Police, 515 North Washington Street, Alexandria, VA 22314 USA.

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