Obama Stimulus Job Count Under New Criticism

The Office of Management and Budget issued a series of reporting guidelines to funding agencies and recipients, however, "it's clear some of the recipients did not understand the OMB guidance," Pound said.

"We report what is provided to us," he emphasized.

It is likely that the jobs created-saved reporting yielded some lowball estimates, although not enough to balance what appear to be potentially widespread overestimates, according to some reports.

Robert Brodsky, a reporter with Government Executive, a trade publication that covers the federal bureaucracy, found several examples in recipient reports, suggesting that jobs estimates may have been undercounted. "Recipients frequently described the types of jobs that were saved using Recovery funds in one column of their reports, but in the next column over, they would say that no jobs were saved or created," Brodsky said. "Clearly, some recipients did not understand the guidance administered by the Office of Management and Budget."

While it may be impossible to conclusively state whether the 640,000 jobs figure is too high or too low, Brodsky said it's clear that the number advertised by the administration is not entirely correct and may require substantial revision.

Onvia, a Seattle-based database company that has tracked government spending since the mid-1990s, is providing data for the federal stimulus tracking Web site (see above) and its own site, www.recovery.org.

Michael Balsam, Onvia's chief solutions officer, agreed it was possible because of confusion over reporting guidelines, that there were equal amounts of undercounting and overcounting. But using Onvia's back-of-the-envelope analysis of the $30 billion to $40 billion in actual stimulus bucks that have left Washington, D.C,. and factoring in a White House claim that it would cost around $90,000 per each job saved or created, the 640,000 estimate is likely too high. The more accurate jobs total is closer to 400,000, Balsam hypothesized.

Issa worries that the public is being fed bunk info and has stopped short of accusing the administration of some form of chicanery.

Issa's press secretary, Kurt Bardella, offered his own rebuke, saying "the Obama administration is falling over itself trying to further this facade that they are creating and saving jobs, when the facts speak to the contrary."

"If the administration holds up this Recovery Board report on stimulus jobs as a way to show that they are being effective and transparent -- it is not proving their points very well," said Tom Schatz, president of the Washington, D.C,. nonprofit Citizens Against Government Waste. "But the fact that the government is having difficulties keeping track of anything is hardly a surprise."

A House hearing on the issue is scheduled for Thursday, Nov. 19, at 10 a.m.

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