Recovery Act: Watching the Watchers

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recovery1The Recovery Act created a huge oversight mechanism and provided more than $350 million for audits and investigations to ensure the $787 billion in the Act would not be wasted.  For example, the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board released a checklist for how to look for waste, fraud and abuse in Recovery Act grants (e.g., “Was the award announced on FBO?  Yes/No”).    Government Executive’s Elizabeth Newell reports that the Board has created an outreach program to agencies to help them.

But what is really interesting is the number of other groups that are engaged in tracking and money and conducting oversight as well.

The most well-known is a private company, Oniva (no, not the calcium supplement), which created its own version of Recovery.gov, the federal government’s website to track the funds being spent.  Their website is:  www.recovery.org.  This site is compiled by dozens of analysts who comb local news media for notices about public spending linked to Recovery Act funds (collecting their info from the bottom up).  It reports 24,463 active projects, spending $77.48 Billion.  In contrast, the federal site (www.recovery.gov) depends on reports from federal agencies, grantees, and contractors (collecting from the top down).  It reports $73.14 Billion as “paid out” as of July 31st.

Another, OMB Watch, is sponsoring a “Coalition for an Accountable Recovery” (CAR) that advocates for greater transparency in Recovery Act spending.

In addition, the advocacy group, “States for a Transparent and Accountable Recovery” (STAR) looks at similar issues from a state-local perspective.

Last week, another advocacy group, “GoodJobsFirst” released a report assessing how transparent the states were being on their Recovery Act websites.

Senator Tom Coburn has been conducting his own investigations of how Recovery Act monies are being used, but they’ve been seen as partisan (or at least incomplete).  His report seems to have gotten more publicity, at least . . ..

And advocacy groups aren’t only looking at the Recovery Act!  There’s a group, Bailout Watch, that is tracking the use of the $700 Billion in bailout monies under programs like TARP.  It has a page called “SubsidyScope.com” that tracks what financial institutions are receiving under the various federal bailout programs.

Are there other websites out there that you know of that are tracking the money (and/or its impact?)

. . . here’s a late addition.  Pro Publica has created a “Stimulus Progress Bar” that’s worth looking at!

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