Congressman Blasts White House for Faulty Job Data on Government Web Site
The government Web site -- Recovery.gov -- is under fire for posting a number of jobs created in congressional districts that don't exist and for accepting unrealistic data from several reporting outlets.
The Democratic chairman of the House Appropriations Committee is demanding greater accountability from the the Obama administration after gross inaccuracies were found on a government Web site that tracks jobs purportedly saved or created by the $787 billion stimulus plan.
In a statement late Monday, Rep. David Obey of Wisconsin, chairman of the House committee, called the inaccuracies "outrageous" and said the administration owes the American public "a commitment to work night and day to correct the ludicrous mistakes."
"Credibility counts in government and stupid mistakes like this undermine it," Obey said. "We designed the Recovery Act to be open and transparent and I expect the the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board, who oversees the recovery act Web site and data to have information that is accurate, reliable and understandable to the American public."
The site -- Recovery.gov -- is under fire for posting a number of jobs created in congressional districts that don't exist and for accepting unrealistic data from several reporting outlets.
For instance, the Web site reported that 30 jobs were saved or created with $761,420 of federal stimulus spending in Arizona's 15th Congressional District. One problem with the claim -- the state has only eight districts
The site also lists 12 other non-existent districts in Arizona where jobs were reportedly saved or created. It also lists imaginary districts in at least three other states, including Oklahoma, Iowa, and Connecticut.
One recipient of stimulus funds, Talladega County of Alabama, claimed that it had saved or created 5,000 jobs from only $42,000 in government money -- which would amount to $8.40 in annual income per job if each position received an equal amount of funding.
G. Edward DeSeve, Obama's appointee to oversee the government's federal stimulus program, acknowledged the mistakes and said the White House is reviewing all reports with a "fine tooth comb" and working to correct inaccuracies.
In a blog posted to the White House Web site Monday, DeSeve said, "we fully agree with those who find the mistakes in the data frustrating -- and we’ve been working with the Recovery Board to find the mistakes, and fix them.
"Just because mistakes are inevitable in any new system -- especially one this large, and this new -- doesn’t mean they are acceptable.
But DeSeve went on to downplay the impact of the mistakes, calling the inaccuracies "relatively few" and claiming they do not change the "fundamental conclusions one can draw from the data."
"Some of the mistakes are frustrating typos and coding errors that don’t undermine information at the heart of the data," DeSeve wrote, adding that "transparency is going to be messy."
ABC News reported Monday that the White House slashed 60,000 jobs from its most recent report on the recovery program as a result of the faulty data.
Officials with the Recovery Board reportedly told the network that the mistakes were caused by human error.
"We report what the recipients submit to us," Ed Pound, communications director for the board, told ABC.
Meanwhile, groups like the NAACP and Hispanic advocacy group National Council of La Raza are expected to speak on Capitol Hill Tuesday to urge President Obama and Congress to pass a new jobs creation package aimed at minority communities. Unemployment among African Americans is at 15 percent, higher than the 10.2 percent nationwide.