House to consider bill to put stimulus money details online

The House may consider a bill that requires agencies to further open themselves to the public on their handling of Recovery Act money

The House is expected to consider a bill this week that would demand more information be posted on the Web about where the economic stimulus law money is going and what it’s doing, according the House Majority Leader’s weekly update May 14.

The American Workers, State, and Business Relief Act (H.R. 4213) would require agencies to post on their Web sites descriptions of the goals for each of their programs getting that money and how those goals relate to the overall program. They then would have to give their plans for reaching those goals, as well as milestones and performance measures for those programs, according to the bill.

The measure would require agencies to describe the processes for measuring progress, such as their methods of review, and how they intended to keep program managers accountable for progress. Also, agencies would have to issue quarterly reports detailing progress and programs’ statuses. The reports would be for congressional committees and posted agencies’ public Web sites, the bill states.


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Obama warns contractors: Report ARRA money or else


For companies or organizations that have received that money, the bill would give the Justice Department the authority to take any of them to court and fine them as much as $250,000 for not handing over information or knowingly leaving out specific data. The bill also would require their names be posted on a public Web site with the details on why they were punished.

Also in the bill, the Senate would demand more of itself. On its own Web site, Senate.gov, the upper chamber would have to post budgetary information. With weekly updates, the Senate would have to relay how much money it has approved that has not been paid for, the total amount of net spending it has authorized, the number of new programs its legislation has launched, and the total amount of spending signed into law.

The House passed this bill in December, and the Senate passed it in March, with changes. The House’s vote would be on whether its members agree with those amendments. If the House agrees to the Senate’s changes, the legislation would go to the president for a signature. If not, the House and the Senate would have to work out the differences.

About the Author

Matthew Weigelt is a freelance journalist who writes about acquisition and procurement.

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