Recovery.gov is up, but questions remain

by on February 17, 2009 · 13 comments

The much anticipated site Recovery.gov has just been launched. It has been advertised by the administration as the place where stimulus spending will be completely disclosed to the public. As President Obama says in an introductory video on the home page, “once the money starts to go out to build new roads, modernize schools, and create new jobs, you’ll be able to see how, when and where it is spent” on the web site.

Reading the transparency and accountability portion of the stimulus bill today, however, I’m left with a few questions:

  1. The House bill called for the creation of a site to be called Recovery.gov, but that was stripped out from the final legislation. Instead, the Act calls for the independent Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board to create a website to house stimulus-related disclosures. Is the newly launched Recovery.gov that website? If so, is it indeed under the control of the independent Board? Right now the site’s content is certainly not independent of the president. If Recovery.gov is not the same thing as the legislatively created Board website, then won’t the launch of Recovery.gov serve to confuse citizens?
  2. I don’t see any mandate in the legislation for deep reporting of how stimulus funding is spent. The Act requires fund recipients to report on a quarterly basis to the agencies from which they received funds (HUD, DoT, DoE, etc.) how they have spent the funds. Thirty days after receiving these reports, the Act requires agencies to publish not necessarily the recipient reports themselves, but “the information submitted in reports” publicly available on “a website.” That is, not necessarily on Recovery.gov or the board website (if they are separate sites).

    Can we be assured that the full text of all recipient reports will be published? And can we be assured that they won’t be scattered across dozens of sites, but placed in a central and easy to access place?

  3. Finally, how deep will the data go? The Board website mandated in the Act only requires the publication of “detailed information on Federal Government contracts and grants that expend covered funds” in the same fashion that USASpending.gov now employs. (Emphasis added.) The problem is that a federal grant could be $10 million to Miami from DoT for roads, and that’s it. There is no requirement that the city then publish its contractors and subcontractors on the Board site. This is a big gap; if the only that must be disclosed on the Board site is the contract or grant award, then the trail will run cold very quickly.

    That said, there is a requirement for contractor and subcontractor reporting, but it comes in the recipient report mandate I explained in question 2, and like I said, there is no guarantee that we will get the full report data, nor that it will be centrally housed. Can we get that assurance?

As Recovery.gov and any other official stimulus accountability sites come on line, StimulusWatch.org and other will be looking to make the data useful to citizens. We can only do this, however, if the administration keeps its pledge to be transparent. Mr. President, just give us the data.

  • Pingback: Recovery.gov answers lead to more questions | The Technology Liberation Front

  • Pingback: (SA18) Shouldn’t Government Transparency Be Included In The Legislative Process… Not Just The Aftermath? « Agenda for Change

  • Christine O'Leary

    I'm a homeowner who filed for Chapter 7 Bankruptsey in 2007, but was able to keep up with my mortgage payments even though I'm living on a fixed income, however I must admit it's been a struggle. I was able to keep my home due to the over saturated forclosures in my area and because of the housing crisis I still owe more than what my home is worth today. With the new bill for homeowners, will I be able to take advantage of either refinancing or getting my payments and Interest lowered even though I filed for bankruptsey a year and a half ago?

    I'm 72 years old and can't find a job. As cost of living rise my income stayes the same and this isn't the plan I had for my retirement years, working in the telecommuniction industry for over 35 years. My savings & 401K have been depleated because of high cost of perscriptions, food, utilities, and gasoline as well as the cost of Supplement Insurance Premiums to cover what Medicare won;t pay, general maintenance on my home and 14 year old car. I'm better off than some now because I almost have enough income to get me by month to month. What I'm having to do when I come up short is cut back on medication or food. Is there anything that will help me lower my mortgage payments before the 5 year period passes since I filed for bankruptsey?

  • sydney

    Definitely the appropriate given Blog is very important for us because it is a very helpful source of communication between themselves and public as well as the Business also we can share our own feelings. Barak Obama is a talented President he has brilliant idea about politics i think he will get success very soon. Democratic government are looking for a change in America they are doing quite good job. If i talk about the website then it is also giving a great contribution for communicating. I hope Obama will take care of all these problems in U.S.A. I think the American as well as black American has lots of expectations from Osama’s government.

    Sydney
    Real Estate Search

  • sharoncfejes

    Perhaps Ezra is right, but only because people acting inside government institutions are much less likely to themselves fidelity 401k bear the cost of their mistakes, and will therefore likely make more of them. There is no way to wriggle out of the fact that people who win elections are just like the rest of us.

  • http://www.contributetomy401keachyear.net/ contribute_401k

    I wanna find more info about this, anybody could?

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