Recovery Board Chairman: We Can’t Certify Jobs Data at Recovery.gov

Nov 18, 2009 6:00am

ABC News’ Rick Klein reports: The chairman of the Obama administration’s Recovery Board is telling lawmakers that he can’t certify jobs data posted at the Recovery.gov Web site — and doesn’t have access to a “master list” of stimulus recipients that have neglected to report data. Earl Devaney, the chairman of the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board, responded to questions posed by Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., late yesterday to say the board can’t vouch for the numbers submitted by recipients of stimulus funding. “Your letter specifically asks if I am able to certify that the number of jobs reported as created/saved on Recovery.gov is accurate and auditable. No, I am not able to make this certification,” Devaney wrote, in a letter provided to ABC News. Devaney rejected Issa’s suggestion that the site include a more prominent disclaimer, such as an asterisk or a footnote. He said the site already does mention in a note to users that “errors and omissions” are likely. Devaney said that while he can’t yet provide a list of all entities that were required to submit information but failed to do so, “I expect to have access to this data shortly.” He also said the board will seek to correct data that proves to be faulty, and is promising “increasingly higher levels of accuracy in the future.” The letter comes amid mounting criticism of stimulus figures that have been riddled with errors, undercutting the administration’s claims that stimulus dollars have helped “save or create” 1 million jobs. ABC News has reported in recent days that Recovery.gov lists scores of jobs and millions of dollars in spending in congressional districts that do not exist. Separately, the administration has slashed more than 60,000 jobs from its most recent report on the program, because the reporting outlets submitted “unrealistic data.” Issa, the ranking Republican on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said in a statement: “This just confirms what we already know, that [the] Administration cannot certify info on recovery.gov as accurate and auditable. The man charged with providing accountability for stimulus spending cannot verify the accuracy of the job reports that the Administration – filtered through [the Office of Management and Budget] – have provided him.” “It’s a startling admission that he hasn’t even been provided with a list of who should have reported, which means he can’t know who didn’t report, which just adds fuel to the argument that the whole effort at transparency has failed.  The Administration has provided inaccurate data, missing data, data that might be missing but they don’t even know for sure.” The oversight panel is convening a hearing Thursday on stimulus job figures, with Devaney due to testify.

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