White House Confident Recovery Act Reports will Detail Where Money Went, How it was Spent

By Nitya

Sep 23, 2009 4:30pm

ABC News’ Karen Travers reports: The Obama Administration has consistently touted the unprecedented level of transparency and accountability put in place with the Recovery Act and next month they will have a chance to show that it actually works.Tomorrow Vice President Biden will hold a conference for all 50 governors to discuss the upcoming reporting period for recipients who received federal money under the Recovery Act.On Friday, the Obama Administration will launch an updated Recovery.gov website to better coordinate the data coming in from funding recipients and state and local agencies in October. About 150,000 recipients of federal stimulus money will be required to file detailed reports on how they have spent the money and how many jobs were created as a result. At the end of October the data will all be available at Recovery.gov, including all changes and corrections made to the reports during the review period. About $276 billion in stimulus money was set aside for project and activities. Half of that money has been allocated and the quarterly recipient reporting will provide details on where that money went and how it was spent. What will the reports say?•    Who is receiving Recovery Act money? •    What are recipients getting?•    When did they get the money?•    Why did they receive the money? (projects will be described and jobs created reported)•    Where are the dollars going?A GAO report out today said “this unprecedented level of detailed information to be reported by a large number of recipients into a new centralized reporting system raises possible risk for the quality and reliability of these data.”Recovery Act Implementation Senior Advisor Ed DeSeve said yes, a “significant risk” does exist because there are “so many moving pieces,” but he is confident the administration has put in place risk management systems to deal with any problems that should arise.DeSeve and Deputy OMB Director Rob Nabors said they feel comfortable with the level of commitment and oversight of federal and local agencies to minimize reporting problems and get the most accurate information possible. They acknowledged that there are challenges to keeping track but said that by doing this in an open, transparent way, they are ensuring the highest level of accuracy. State and local governments have been giving funding to conduct their own audits if they see the need and DeSeve said they could audit 100% of the funding recipients if necessary but they will apply a statistical and probability approach to determining what projects and reports get a closer look. DeSeve said there will be enough data in this upcoming report to learn lessons on how best to apply further money but noted that with each quarterly report, the data will get better. The Council of Economic Advisors also will put out quarterly analysis of the job impact of the Recovery Act, but its estimate will include direct and indirect jobs (those created directly from stimulus money and those created by the ripple effect of the money going to states and local agencies). -Karen Travers

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