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Obama: Track our spending online

- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 17, 2009

As he prepares to sign the largest discretionary single spending bill in history, President Obama's administration on Tuesday asked voters to help track how the money is being spent and launched recovery.gov to give taxpayers the information.

"Instead of politicians doling out money behind closed doors, the important decisions about where taxpayer dollars are invested will be yours to scrutinize," Mr. Obama said in a video announcing the opening of the site.

The president plans to sign the $787 billion bill in Denver Tuesday afternoon, but attention is already turning to how his young administration will administer the money. Some government watchdogs have questioned agencies' ability to manage such a big infusion of cash and to spend the money quickly which lawmakers said is critical to stimulating the economy.

Recovery.gov says the plan will create 3.5 million jobs over the next two years and lists the number of jobs expected to be created in each state, with California's nearly 400,000 new or preserved jobs topping the list.

An administration official, speaking on condition of anonymity before the site went live, said they have studied other watchdog Web sites such as USASpending.gov, Grants.gov and non-governmental ShovelWatch.org for inspiration.

"The site is the tip of the iceberg for the effort that will go into taking spending tracking and accountability to the next level," the official said. "It's clear we don't have all the answers but we're trying to think about how we can develop programs that provide accessibility and transparency."

Mr. Obama said the site will grow and develop as the spending ramps up.

Staff writer Christina Bellantoni contributed to this report.

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