Stimulus reporting comes in fits and starts

Although more than 112,000 recipients met a deadline of Oct. 10 for filing spending reports, others are still struggling to comply

More than 112,000 recipients of stimulus law funding met an Oct. 10 deadline for filing their spending reports, the Obama administration said. But other agencies are still struggling to comply with the requirements.

Earl Devaney, chairman of the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board, which oversees the stimulus program, said the process has gone smoothly. The spending information is due to be posted Oct. 30 on the government Web site Recovery.gov.

However, some agencies face fundamental obstacles to supplying the required information. For example, the Housing and Urban Development Department ramped up its reporting system in record time — little more than a month — but still failed to meet all the requirements for environmental reviews, security and privacy, according to a report released Sept. 30 by HUD’s Office of Inspector General.

HUD officials concurred with the recommendations in the report. But they also noted basic obstacles, such as the lack of systems to collect data from more than 3,000 sources in some cases.

HUD might not be alone, said Eric Gillespie, chief information officer at Onvia, which is tracking stimulus spending as a marketing project. “Everyone is going to have these issues. ... This was a Herculean task, and I don’t think anyone can be critical of the progress they have made from the legislation to today.”

About $356 billion of economic stimulus funding has been obligated so far, said Gary Bass, executive director of OMB Watch, which is a member of the Coalition for an Accountable Recovery. About $6 billion in federal contracts and $204 billion in obligated funds for grants and loans will be reported on Recovery.gov by Oct. 30, he added.

Although he expects there to be errors and omissions in the initial data, Bass said that with citizen input, the data will improve over time.

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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