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Hutchinson creates committee to recommend best use of federal infrastructure money

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson said a new advisory committee will make recommendations on how the state can apply for grants and best use designated funds available from the federal $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.

Hutchinson created the panel through one of three executive orders issued Monday. Becky Keogh, secretary of the Department of Energy and Environment, will chair the 18-member committee that consists of department heads, cabinet members and others.

The committee is tasked with studying and analyzing the funds available to Arkansas from the bill, signed last month by President Joe Biden. The group also would decide whether a consultant should be hired.

“The Infrastructure Planning Advisory Committee will recommend how to best use our portion of the federal money that is being returned to the state,” Hutchinson said in a news release.

The governor also issued an executive order Monday that requires some auditors in cabinet-level departments to report to the Office of Internal Audit.

“This change will further enhance the integrity of our audits and give taxpayers confidence that state agencies are following the best practices of internal auditors,” Hutchinson said.

The state agencies affected are the Department of Finance and Administration-Office of Arkansas Lottery, Department of Health, Department of Corrections, Department of Education, Department of Commerce-Workforce Services and the Department of Human Services.

Hutchinson also announced the formation of the Arkansas Energy Resources Council. The 21-member panel includes representatives from state agencies, utility companies, industry and the Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce.

“The winter storms in February were a reminder of the toll that a natural disaster can take, which is why I have created the Arkansas Energy Resources Council,” Hutchinson said. “The members of the council will facilitate ongoing conversations between state agencies and leaders in the energy sector so that we are as prepared as possible to deal with extreme events that can cause power outages and interfere with communication.”

The group will meet at least once a year, according to the executive order.

This article was originally posted on Hutchinson creates committee to recommend best use of federal infrastructure money

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