When the $787 billion Economic Stimulus Bill – known as the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act – was signed, there was a promise to provide full transparency on it’s expenditure and to ensure that every dollar is tracked. Like so many earlier government promises, this one also is starting to look a bit flaky.
CNN – provides data from government research organization OMB Watch, who say that said its assessment of the [stimulus spending] reports revealed many inconsistencies in the job creation data. This undermines transparency, because you are putting out wrong information to the tax-paying public who are funding the stimulus program. Uncovering how many jobs created is critical to the debate about the Recovery Act’s value, because creating jobs (to stimulate the economy) was the key reason behind Congress’ approval of the spending.
OMB Watch said its review yielded “really weird job numbers,” including many discrepancies within the reports themselves. For instance, OMB Watch found that many companies said in a narrative portion of their reports that it was able to retain several employees because of stimulus funds, but the “jobs created” column read “zero.”
But the enormity of the stimulus bill leaves some experts saying it will be impossible to accurately portray the data. The sheer size of the reporting is dumbfounding: Tens of thousands of recipients will file reports after receiving stimulus funds from one of 28 government umbrella agencies, or from one of countless agencies from the 50 states.
Recipients of stimulus funds were required to report how many jobs they saved or created and how much money they have received from government agencies by Oct. 10. The first sliver of that information was posted on recovery.gov this week, with more to be available later this month. The contract awards posted so far represented less than 7% of the total stimulus funds doled out so far. By far the largest part of stimulus is in grants to states, which account for 83% of stimulus funding. Federal agencies and recipients are spending nearly three weeks reviewing these state reports to improve their accuracy before publishing them.
Have you seen any stimulus jobs created in your area? And, do you think the stimulus program is delivering on its intended purpose of creating new jobs?