The Washington Times - January 6, 2010, 02:21PM

Not only has the government’s Web site created to track stimulus spending incorrectly allocated billions of tax dollars to “phantom” congressional districts, it’s erroneously allocating money to ZIP codes that don’t exist, as well.

Researchers at the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity released a study on their website www.watchdog.org on Wednesday that listed 171 ZIP non-existent ZIP codes recieving $375 million found on the government’s tracking website Recovery.gov. “It’s the exact same thing as with happened with the phantom districts,” Franklin Center President Jason Stverak told The Washington Times.

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But Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board that operates the Recovery.gov says these are just simple human errors.

Ed Pound, communications director for the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board, called the study “superficial reporting at its worst.” He pointed out to the Washington Times the money was properly accounted for in other documents available through Recovery.gov showing what projects the money is paying for and where they are located.

He said the errors were already being corrected. “We did an analysis and there are about 400 ZIP code entries of 131,000 reports where people either typed in the wrong number or misentered it,” he said.

“We’re talking about clerical errors here,” Mr. Pound added.

New Mexico’s Watchdog editor and Rio Grande Foundation reporter Jim Scarantino, who also broke the story about Recovery.gov allocating money to non-existent congressional districts last November, was the first to notice the bad zip codes being listed in his own state.

“As in the case of the phantom Congressional districts, the dollar magnitude of the errors we found in little New Mexico was eclipsed by the repetition of these glaring reporting errors across the nation,” he reported on Monday. “If we can find nonexistent zip codes, we have no doubt that our counterparts in other states, which have received much more money, will again be able to repeat and expand upon our results for the Land of Enchantment.”

Watchdog.org is a project of the Franklin Center for Government Integrity and Policy, a nonprofit dedicated to aggregating and highlighting reporting from state and local journalists to promote government transparency.

The study about faulty ZIP codes is available HERE.

Correction: The Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board is independent of the White House. A previous version of this story likened statements from Mr. Pound as a representative of the White House. That is incorrect.