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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Administration tries to explain away stimulus errors

Responding to rash of errors in its tracking of the $787 billion stimulus package, the Obama Administration has mounted a defense of its $84 million web boondoggle.

Obama special adviser G. Edward DeSeve writes on the White House website that the errors are minor compared to the overall to the massive bill.
First, the mistakes are RELATIVELY few, and don’t change the fundamental conclusions one can draw from the data. Even if as many as 5-10% of the reports or 5-10% of the totals are wrong (and we don’t think it is that high), that still means the Recovery Act saved or created between 600,000 and 700,000 direct jobs in its first seven months – more than most experts predicted when it passed. And most leading experts agree that – whatever the recipient reported total should be – the actual number of jobs saved or created is about double that, because the recipient reports don’t include direct payments to individuals, the jobs created by Recovery Act tax cuts, and the jobs created when workers on Recovery Act projects spend their paychecks.

The Recovery.gov team even weighed in on Twitter, passing the blame for the slew of faulty job numbers and phantom Congressional Districts on recipients making mistakes on the reports they submitted.
Did you know? Unless an egregious error is noted, Recovery.gov posts data exactly as it is reported by recipients.

But the Board overseeing the $84 million Recovery.gov project admits it never checked to see that the data going into the database was accurate. Ed Pound is Director of Communications for the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board.
“People make errors, and we’ve found people are making errors in these reports,” Pound said…

Recipients file their reports on a password-protected site. That information is then relayed to officials who oversee the recovery.gov website to post, Pound said. Unless an egregious error is noted, Pound said they post the information exactly as it is received.

“Our job is data integrity, not data quality,” he said.

In New Hampshire, the stimulus website shows that 92.5% of all jobs "created or saved" by the stimulus are in Concord, likely the result of how state officials reported how they were spending the money to Washington. Of the 3,000 jobs reported by New Hampshire stimulus coordinator Bud Fitch, over 2,000 were public school teachers, and nearly all were working for state or federal governments.

As the Administration tries to explain away its ability to track how the government is spending $787 billion in taxpayer money, it lacks any explanation for how the stimulus has failed to meet the Administration's rosy projections, or why the same bureaucrats should be trusted with America's health care industry.

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