Stimulus Transparency On Hold
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President Barack Obama’s highly touted database for Americans to track “every dime” of the $787 billion stimulus bill won’t offer the transparency he promised because details on contracts and grants won’t be available until half the money is spent.
The administration official in charge of operating the president’s innovative government website—supposedly listing the information—informed a U.S. House committee this week that the public will not, in fact, be able to access details of how their tax dollars are being spent, or misspent, whatever the case may be.
That’s because the specifics of programs being funded by stimulus money won’t be posted until late fall and may not be complete until next spring, which is halfway through the program. Agencies won’t even begin reporting any data until mid October, according to the chairman (Earl Devaney) of the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board.
Devaney revealed the Obama Administration’s early transparency mishaps to the House Committee on Science and Technology, which posted his testimony on its website. He even prepared the panel for the possibility of further delays, informing that it will be a huge challenge to have the information ready in five months.
The recovery web site currently lists the total amounts of money available as well as the amounts already spent, but fails to include the specifics promised by the president. This certainly contradicts Obama’s claims that the stimulus bill (American Recovery and Reinvestment Act) provides for unprecedented levels of transparency and accountability so that Americans know how, when, and where tax dollars are being spent.
A specially created “Recovery Board” is also rooting out waste, inefficiency and unnecessary spending, according to the web site. The main vehicle for Americans to monitor the progress of the recovery as well as any fraud or corruption however, is the one tool that won’t be available for months.