Wait and See

California officials don't expect one definitive statement on stimulus reporting rules from the federal government. Instead, details will emerge on a program-by-program basis, Takai said.

She recently raised some of the reporting questions with auditors from the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO). Audit teams from the agency will be stationed in California and 15 other states for the next several years to monitor stimulus spending and the results it produces.

"I felt the GAO was very cooperative. They came out early so they could hear what we thought about the issues and challenges," Takai said. "The final decisions rest with OMB [Office of Management and Budget]. But we gave them input they could take back to OMB."

Who Pays the Bill?

Another question is who pays for stepped-up reporting and transparency efforts triggered by the stimulus package. Like nearly 40 other states, California has launched a special Web site to show citizens how stimulus dollars are being spent. For now, California is adding up the costs of its monitoring and accountability activities in the hope that federal funds will pick up at least part of the tab.

"In some areas, we have heard that there may be dollars for administrative support," Takai said. "But we don't think those dollars are very large, and it's not clear to us where they are."