ASU Offers Classes for Businesses Looking to Use Stimulus Funds; Level of Scrutiny by Feds to be "Unprecedented"

Federal handouts come with long, twisted regulatory strings attached. Now, thanks to a series of new Arizona State University classes, stimulus-grabbing businesses can prepare for the bureaucratic onslaught.

The classes are being offered by a side-gig of the ASU's Ira A. Fulton's School of Engineering called the Alliance for Construction Excellence, run by Gary Aller (pictured). The letters in ACE also represent the project's mission "to advance, collaborate and enrich the construction industry." Yeah, we know what some of you are thinking -- isn't that industry enriched enough around here? Well, could be -- but as the construction industry goes, don't forget, so goes Arizona's economy.

Reading Aller's synopses of each class, we're reminded of the bureaucracy level reached in the movie Brazil:

Course Description:

Presented by: Michael A. Hordell & Stanley R. Soya | Partners | Pepper Hamilton LLP | Washington, D.C.

Gain insight into the new ARRA reporting, accountability and transparency requirements and ensure your organization is positioned to implement the ARRA. This is not business as usual. Congress and the Administration require full compliance. expect funds be well used for their intended purpose, and are taking significant and unprescedented monitoring steps. The level of scrutiny will be very high. Review the requirements and learn how your organization must report and plan for inspections and audits

It's always nice to see people in the business community being honest -- "business as usual" seems to imply that federal funds are NOT always "well used for their intended purpose." Under the new regime, though, it sounds like we're going to need an army of new inspectors, auditors and investigators.

The other three stimulus-related classes teach:

* How to buy American -- a requirement for stimulus-funds recipients.

* How to avoid running afoul of federal civil rights laws.

* How federal law requires businesses getting stimulus money to pay workers fair wages, limit their hours and avoid taking kickbacks.

The last class informs businesses about "issues that prompt investigation and what may happen before and after an investigation," which makes an investigation sound as certain as death and taxes.

Ah, well. It's still free money.