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  • Stimulus Transparency Fail

    The Denver Post reports:

    The goal was to build a reporting system that allows the public to follow the zigzagging paths of dollars awarded under the $787 billion federal stimulus package. A financial GPS of sorts. But despite federal lawmakers’ pledge of transparency, the final stages of most money trails, along with key information about job impacts, will remain invisible to users of the Recovery.org website when it debuts next month.

    Only details of a stimulus grant’s passage through its first two stops after it leaves the federal government must be reported, according to guidance memos from the White House Office of Management and Budget. That means billions of dollars will be untrackable and thousands of recipients will be left unidentified through the database, officials acknowledge.

    “That isn’t transparent, and that’s the primary concern,” said Craig Jennings, senior policy analyst for OMB Watch, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank examining stimulus spending.

    “You basically lose track of billions of dollars, and in many cases there will be a whole lot of interesting connections at the sub, sub levels of funding missed,” he said. “These are levels that need oversight to prevent waste, fraud and abuse.”

    Officials with the Office of Management and Budget did not respond to requests for an interview.

    Who could have possibly predicted this?

    Posted in Ongoing Priorities [slideshow_deploy]

    10 Responses to Stimulus Transparency Fail

    1. Bill San Antonio TX says:

      Instead of squeezing every dollar of fraud, waste, and abuse out of the "system", we allow a broken oversight system to continue wasting and losing billions of dollars.

      We are now borrowing, printing, allocating, and spending so much money that the waste can never be tracked. The amount by any definition is incomprehensible.

      Congress should demand this stop but what incentive do they have? The truth is enough of them do not want to. Money is power. Why would Congress want to stop spending? They won't even investigate or punish their own violators, unless it becomes so politically toxic they cannot stand by them.

      The answer is always more taxation and more borrowing. Aren't you glad government is looking out for you?

      What is the incentive for the average person to even pay bills any longer?

    2. Lynn B. DeSpain says:

      The transparancy Obama promised the Citizens of the United States, so far has been that of his lies, and misdirection, his shaming us before the World, and the embarrassment he is to all Real Americans who stand for Freedom and our Constituion.

    3. Normca says:

      Watch television and print adds as the 2010 mid term election gets off the ground. That will tell you as much as the $18 million web site will about where the so called stimulus money is going. [Paying GE, CBS and CNN for campaign adds] 90% + is being held till the campaign begins. What would happen if another bridge collapses [hopefully with no cars or pedestrians on or under it]? That would be a shovel ready project where the funds were spent on TV adds. I'll bet most of the needed projects, like bridges that have not been maintained will not be done under the "recovery act". Just ask Joe – he will tell you where the money is going [after he remembers the web site address].

    4. joan, connecticut says:

      Obama is too busy to answer General McChrystal about the dire need for more troops in Afghanistan, but has time to fly to Denmark, to use his community organizing skills in an attempt to persuade the Olympics committee to hold the event in Chicago. Is he the USA president or a huckster? Are our men and women lives in the war zone being put on the back burner by Americas commander in chief.I hope not!

    5. Perry OK says:

      How many zeros in an american story? That is how we shall be remembered. So enjoy today for tomarrow our debt shall consume us and we shall be bound by ones CHANGE(CHAINS).

    6. Jerry from Chicago says:

      Does anyone believe that this was somehow an accident?

      They don't want to to know where that money is going. It's none of your business where that money is going. Who are you to be asking about this anyway, peon?

    7. Ron, Oregon says:

      Just another sad day for America. President Goodwrench doesn't have the time to tend to the war on terrorism, but has time for photo ops. He is the real terror threat to America. I feel very sorry for our troops in the Mid-East. They are getting little, if any, support from the so called Commander-In-Chief. I hope we live to regret this mistake of a president.

    8. Becky from Northern says:

      Joan says:"Obama is too busy to answer General McChrystal about the dire need for more troops in Afghanistan, but has time to fly to Denmark, to use his community organizing skills in an attempt to persuade the Olympics committee to hold the event in Chicago. Is he the USA president or a huckster?…"

      Joan, I had those thoughts too. But then again, I have always thought of him as a (talented) "huckster" from Chicago. I wonder how he will do with his wowzer huckstering show in Denmark? Do ya think they will succumb to his talent? What then? Chicago people don't even want the Olympics due to the cost and the hassles.

    9. Susan Zarowny, Detro says:

      The Obama Mafia Boys never intended to be tranparent. They do not care what the average citizen wants or thinks. The American tax payers are their personal cash cow.

    10. Toni Becker says:

      USDA Bait and Switch with Stimulus Money!

      The USDA made a serious mistake and will not take responsibility for it.

      USDA Defies Logic, Reason and History

      Many are crying foul on the USDA over their handling of the Stimulus funds for Rural Broadband. The USDA has some serious explaining to do, as they appear perfectly comfortable having contradicted the Farm Bill with their Stimulus funding.

      Historically, the 2002 Farm Bill[1] defined the term rural community with little need for interpretation:

      (2) Eligible Rural Community. The term means any incorporated or unincorporated place that—

      (A) has not more than 20,000 inhabitants; and

      (B) is not located in an area designated as a standard metropolitan statistical area.

      In the 2008 Farm Bill, the congressional definition[2] for Rural Broadband was altered to read:

      A Rural Area[3] is any area other than:

      1) A city of 20,000 or greater, and

      2) An urban area that borders a city of 50,000 or greater

      Note the distinct difference between the 2002 and 2008 definitions; the word "not" was moved away from the individual lines and implied in the “other than.” But the USDA looked to the 2002 Farm Bill to determine that the longstanding and reasonable definition was: Not 1 and Not 2.

      Flash forward to July 2009 when the USDA and Department of Commerce released the definition of Rural Area for distributing $7.2B for Rural Broadband stimulus.

      Rural area means any area which is not located within:

      1. A city of 20,000 or greater; or

      2. An urban area that borders a city of 50,000 or greater

      The impact of changing "and" to "or" in the definition of Rural is staggering and many companies based their application on the precise wording: Not 1 or Not 2.

      However, the USDA has been interpreting the definition as though it is no different than the 2008 Farm Bill. When cornered on the use of the word "or" in the stimulus definition, the USDA made a self-defeating explanation that "not" should be applied overall rather than individually: Not ( 1 or 2 ).

      The long-standing and reasonable interpretation of the 2008 Farm Bill forces the reading to be Not 1 or Not 2.

      The USDA must decide whether they want to stand by Congress’ Farm Bill definition or their own Stimulus definition; but should not be allowed to do both. To have their cake and eat it too is wrong, especially for government.

      More information at: http://semo.net/pr.pdf


      [1] http://www.usda.gov/farmbill2002/conference_repor…. Title VI: Rural Broadband Access. Sec. 601. Pg 67.

      [2] http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgibin/getdoc.cgi

      [3] See slide #42 titled SEC 601 Broadband (modified) http://www.usda.gov/rus/pasd/presentations/Ackerm

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