WASHINGTON– Projects resulting from the $7.4 billion Defense Department portion of President Barack Obama’s economic stimulus package will start to be visible soon, defense officials said today. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which Obama signed Feb. 17, provides $787 billion to stimulate the economy and help the nation and world recover from the global economic crisis.

“The recovery plan we passed is the first step in getting our economy back on track,” Obama said during his speech to a joint session of Congress last night.

While most of the money will go to civilian agencies, the $7.4 billion Defense Department portion is aimed at projects that could be accelerated or started at once. The department can obligate stimulus funds for military construction projects through the end of fiscal 2013, and the rest through the end of fiscal 2010.

A focal point of the bill is $555 million for a temporary expansion of the Homeowner’s Assistance Program benefits for private home sale losses of both military and civilian Defense Department personnel. The program reimburses those who lose money on a home sale due to a forced relocation.

Under the legislation, $4.2 billion is available in operations and maintenance accounts to upgrade military facilities, including energy-related improvements, officials said.

The act calls for $1.3 billion in military construction for hospitals, and $240 million for child development centers.

The legislation also provides $100 million in military construction for warrior transition complexes, and about $600 million for military housing projects for the troops and their families.

The department will receive $300 million to develop energy-efficient technologies and $120 million for the Energy Conservation Investment Program. Another $15 million is marked for inspector general oversight and audit of Recovery Act spending.

Pentagon officials are working with service leaders to finalize details. The legislation calls on federal agencies to report on their use of the stimulus funds on March 3. Defense Department and service officials are working to determine which bases will receive construction projects

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