Stimulus Reporting Riddled With (Human) Errors
According to data posted on the federal government’s stimulus tracking website, Recovery.gov, stimulus dollars have created or saved more than 15,000 jobs in Missouri. But some of those jobs seem to be located in state congressional districts that don’t exist.
Missouri has nine congressional districts, which have been awarded the bulk of federal stimulus dollars and jobs. But, according to the data, six fictional districts were awarded $928,566 to create 8.5 jobs. The districts, jobs, and stimulus dollars spent are as follows:
- Five jobs were created in the the 14th district, at a cost of $617,848.
- Zero jobs were created in the 00 district, at a cost of $136,833.
- Zero jobs were created in the 31st district, at a cost of $74,542.
- Finally, 0.5 jobs were created in the 16th district, at a cost $28,453.
To see these numbers yourself on the Recovery.gov website, click here
There appears to be a problem with the federal government’s reporting system for stimulus money spent — and it’s nationwide. According to the website WatchDog.org, a total of $6.4 billion has been spent in 440 fictitious congressional districts.
The phony districts have bloggers, news organizations, and even elected officials crying foul.
In fact, on Thursday, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee will hold a hearing on “how recovery act recipients spend their stimulus dollars.” Committee chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) has called the data on the Recovery.gov site incomplete and incorrect.
But Ed Pound, director of communications for the Recovery Board, says that the real problem is human error.
“The recipients put in the wrong congressional district when they filed the reports with the government,” he said. “You’re going to see errors because this is raw data.”
Fictional congressional districts aren’t the only errors in the Recovery.gov data. Many Missouri recipients of federal stimulus funds, such as the University of Missouri–Rolla, neglected to report a description for their project or its status. Others left question marks.
Pound said that the Recovery.gov data is generated from reports filed by grant and contract recipients. After a 20-day verification period, during which federal agency employees check the reports made by grant and contract recipients, the reported data is posted to Recovery.gov.
But, Pound said, a federal agency can only tell a grant or contract recipient that its report is incomplete or inaccurate. Recipients are responsible for making the actual corrections.
“Only recipients can correct this,” he said.
According to Recovery.gov data, available at the site’s “data download center”, the following governmental agencies listed fictional congressional districts: Newton County, Crawford County, the Saint Louis Development Corporation, the Housing Authority of Aurora, the City Utilities of Springfield, the Hannibal Housing Authority, and Missouri Valley College.