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Audit: Increasing Risk That Race to Top Work Won't Get Finished on Time

The Education Department's inspector general issued a new audit of oversight of Race to the Top, generally praising federal officials for how they've implemented and managed this new, high-profile $4 billion grant program. And, the audit found that delays continue to plague a sample of five states the inspector general's office surveyed.

For readers of Education Week, that's no surprise. We've been chronicling implementation woes (and successes) in the dozen Race to the Top states for years.

But there are a few interesting tidbits in this audit: 

  • For the first time, auditors quantify the extent and length of implementation delays. In the second year of the program, the five states surveyed experienced delays ranging from a low of 13 percent of their projects to a high of 54 percent. And some projects were delayed as long as three years. (The report doesn't name the states.)
  • Auditors raise the possibility that with various timeline delays in several states, it's possible—even with an extra year to finish their work—that some Race to the Top work won't be finished. The report says: "There is increasing risk that projects with delayed or compressed timelines will not be completed within the grant period or will be implemented with poor quality, and that goals may become unattainable."
  • The OIG really wants the department to issue a comprehensive annual report on Race to the Top, to showcase overall results, successes, and challenges across the program as a whole. The department is refusing, saying that individual state reports, plus other information the feds put online, offer a good summary. The audit says: "However, by not producing a Comprehensive RTT Annual Report that highlights shared accomplishments and common challenges, qualified however necessary, the department is missing the opportunity to provide valuable information, increase transparency, and offer stakeholders greater insight into the RTT program, to include lessons learned from implementation."

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