Nov. 17, 2009 -- Responding to more inaccuracies discovered in the reporting of spending and job creation from the administration's economic stimulus plan, the top White House official charged with overseeing the program vowed today to go through the reports with a fine-toothed comb and to correct the mistakes.
The promise came after ABC News found that Recovery.gov, the government Web site created to track the expenditures, had many job creation and stimulus spending figures that were attributed to congressional districts that do not exist, or that were incorrectly identified.
"The first time out, we knew there were going to be problems," said Edward DeSeve, special advisor to the president on the stimulus bill. "We don't think there are a lot of them. There are less than 1 percent in terms of the recent concern about congressional districts of the overall reports. And we've got a good commitment from the recovery board to work with us to fix them."
Officials tell ABC News, so far, they have found 700 mistakenly credited congressional districts out of more than 130,000 stimulus grants.
The reports used to come up with that number are riddled with errors. In addition to the jobs in non-existent congressional districts reported Monday by ABC News, in real congressional districts, there are also problems, lots of them.
Moore's Shoes in Campbellsville, Ky., claims nine jobs were created from an $890 grant for nine pairs of work boots for the Army Corps of Engineers.
Head Start of Augusta, Ga., claimed 317 jobs with a $790,000 grant, but it was really just a one-time raise to its 317 employees.
Chris Whitley is a fiscal officer for Central Savannah River Area Economic Opportunity Authority, which administers the Head Start program in Augusta. He says it was the administration's stimulus help line that advised them to claim 317 jobs.
"It wasn't illegal, immoral or unethical. And they told me to do it, so I did it," said Whitley.
The mistakes have prompted anger on Capitol Hill.
Rep. David Obey, D-Wis., the powerful chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, was outraged that one sewer project in his district was listed as creating 100 jobs. The real number is five.
When asked what he thought when he saw the mistakes in his district, Obey said, "I wanted to strangle somebody."
Obey is demanding the administration fix the mistakes.
"Fix the problem, the blessed problem, so that we're getting accurate information. I don't care what people's bureaucratic niceties are, or how hard it is to do it. I mean, they've got to fix the problem, so the American people can understand what the realities are.
White House Reaction
Today, the Obama administration told ABC News they are working on it and they expect those mistakes to be corrected by the end of the week.