The Corner

Recovery.Gov Is Short on Useful Data and Long on Mistakes

Remember the promise made by the administration about how we taxpayers would be able to track how the stimulus dollars were being used? Well, it’s not happening. I just spent the last two days digging into the website data and it is very short on useful information.

For instance, while you can find out how many jobs the administration claims were created or “saved,” you can’t tell how many of the jobs were government jobs versus private-sector jobs (to find out, you have to use other very unclear data released by the White House on October 19). And while you can see how much money the Department of Education in California received, you can’t tell where that money went or how many jobs were created or “saved” with that cash. We can see how much money went to contracts versus how much money went to grants and loans, but we don’t know what the grant money bought. And you rarely can tell who the ultimate recipient of the money is. Of course, we can speculate.

See, for instance, here. The website describes how $4.3 billion went to the planning and research of the Governor’s Office in Sacramento California through the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund — Education Fund. We can see that 53,390.50 jobs were created, but nothing else. Were these union teacher jobs? Probably, but we can’t really tell. 

The bottom line is that this website is terrible. And to think that it cost taxpayers over $9.4 million to build so far is outrageous.

In addition, this morning USA Today reports that, surprise, many jobs on the website were overreported.

The federal government sent Bob Bray $26,174 in stimulus aid to fix a fence and replace the roofs on public apartments in Blooming Grove, Texas, a town of fewer than 900 people outside Dallas. He hired five roofers and an inspector to do the job.

But the number of jobs he reported to the government looked very different — 450 jobs.

There are many more examples, like this one here.