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Thursday, February 19, 2009

Accountability Website Likely to Fall Short

Phil Elliot from the AP reported on Wednesday:

WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama promised taxpayers they could track each of the billions and billions of dollars in spending Congress has approved to stimulate the nation's flailing economy and save its banks. It's a promise that's going to be difficult, if not impossible, to keep.

Obama, whose presidential campaign harnessed technology to identify supporters and track voters, already has rewritten the rules on how technology can be used to shape public opinion. But as the president and his top aides attempt to turn that savvy into governing, they are finding that existing technology and regulations are making it difficult for them to keep their word.

"We're actually going to set up something called Recovery.gov. This is going to be a special Web site we set up, that gives you a report on where the money is going in your community, how it's being spent, how many jobs it's being created so that all of you can be the eyes and ears," Obama told an audience last week in Indiana.
"And if you see that a project is not working the way it's supposed to, you'll be able to get on that Web site and say, 'You know, I thought this was supposed to be going to school construction, but I haven't noticed any changes being made.' And that will help us track how this money is being spent."

Except that it didn't work exactly as Obama suggested when the Web site went live Tuesday as Obama signed the $787 billion economic stimulus package into law.
While the site breaks down the massive bill into broad categories, and provides state-by-state estimates of jobs that will be created, it does not provide any details on spending by community.

White House aides say they will provide more information as soon as they can, but they cannot predict which specific projects — this bridge or that highway, for instance — will be included, because states make those decisions.
The problem facing the administration is that it's impossible to put on the Web site decisions that have not yet been made.

We applaud the Obama administration’s impulse toward transparency. And we are inclined to believe that this blunder was born out of ignorance, not malice. But the very nature of this law—it was a spending bill not an economic stimulus bill—puts the lie to the idea that they can suitably account for the money. To the best of our ability, we here at STEWARD will hold the administration and Congress accountable for the sometimes absurd pork programs that were stuffed into the parameters of this law.

1 comment:

  1. Transparency is a GREAT thing, however there are many definition to 'transparency'. We would like for this to be truthful and factual . . . how can this be when there is no one to prove the facts? The main-stream media is incapable of this task.