Recovery Act Reporting

The Recovery Transparency and Accountability Board posted its second set of updates onto its Recovery.Gov website last week.  The new data covered Recovery Act spending in the last quarter of 2009 (October – December).  There were some public reports with mild complaints about inaccuracies, but for the most part, the new data did not seem to create much of a stir.

The “Recovery Funded Jobs” number for the quarter was reported at 595,263.  The new method for calculating “jobs” seems to be less controversial. 

However, my quick visit to the site left me with two observations.

First, I could not figure out the differences between three bottom-line figures posted on the site for grants, contracts, and loans.  There is a total of $275 billion authorized to be spent for grants, contracts and loans, via hundreds of programs.  The website reported the following aggregates on its homepage, which their FAQs and glossary of terms don’t clarify:

  • Funds awarded = $199 billion (is this “obligated?”)
  • Funds received = $57 billion (is this “disbursed?”. . .)
  • Funds paid out = $74.4 billion (. . . or is this “disbursed?”)

In contrast, a competing (but unofficial) website, Recovery.Org, reports 54,714 projects “valued at” $169.4 billion. Maybe not much clearer, but at least they don’t create confusion by reporting more than one number!

I’m guessing that if I’m a bit bewilderd, others may be as well . . . 

And second, they’ve included a really cool functionality, “Where Is the Money Going?,” that allows you to type in your zip code and up pops every grant, loan, and contract awarded in your zip code, along with a street map to show where it was awarded.  There is also a page for “Recipient Reported Data” that allows you to look at the data in different ways (by state, by types of grants, etc.)

Have you visited the Recovery Act website recently?  What are your impressions?

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