December 17, 2009

Recovery.gov details errors

Given Recovery.gov's less than stellar history of reporting how the stimulus money is being spent, their new report on "errors, omissions, and non-reported rewards" is a minor victory for transparency advocates. Minor because these errors should not be happening in the first place, but their publication at least shows some initiative to be open about their mistakes.

There were 682 recipient reports that included incorrect data in one or more of three fields: Funding agency, Awarding agency, or Treasury Account Symbol. For the first two types, the recipients erroneously attributed funds to agencies that had no ability to provide or award funds. For the Treasury Account Symbol, a total of 498 reports listed either the GAO or temporary account numbers that should have been finalized before making it onto Recovery.gov.

There were 12 recipient reports that the Office of Management and Budget withheld from Recovery.gov because of "unrealistic" job creation numbers and other unidentified errors in the data.

Finally, there were 4,359 recipients who never completed the appropriate reports for Recovery.gov. The Army Core of Engineers had 1,580 recipients fail to report their rewards, by far the largest.

While mistakes like this shouldn't be happening in the first place, that Recovery.gov publishes them gives me hope. Instead of hoping nobody would call attention to these errors, Recovery.gov got out in front and detailed them for all to see. While the execution has been less than perfect, their effort here is very appreciated.