Stimulus Act Will Test Civil Servants' Abilities
By Alec MacGillis
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, February 23, 2009; Page A01
For weeks, the economic stimulus package lay in the hands of President Obama and congressional leaders. But with Obama having signed the $787 billion bill on Tuesday, its fate has been dispersed far and wide -- to places such as the state office building in Crownsville, Md., outside Annapolis, where three workers face the challenge of a career.
The team oversees the home-weatherization program in Maryland's Department of Housing and Community Development, disbursing $2.6 million a year in federal funds to cities and community groups to insulate the homes of 1,000 low-income residents. The stimulus package provides $65 million over two years, enough to cut deep into the waiting list of 22,000 homes. For the team -- an administrator, an auditor and a clerk -- it is a once-in-a-lifetime chance to prove their worth, albeit amid higher stakes and more scrutiny than they have ever faced.
"These are guys who have been working this weatherization program for years, who have been stuck back in the corner of the office here . . . and they'd just keep doing their 1,000 homes a year," said Bill Ariano, the agency's deputy director, who added that four others may join the team. "So this is exciting, and it's challenging. It's a long time in coming."