Concerns are piling up that www.recovery.gov, the Obama administration’s online clearinghouse for stimulus- spending information, isn’t producing the kind of transparency it promised.
Obama said the Web site would provide a way for taxpayers to track and monitor how the $700 billion in stimulus money was being spent, yet more than two months after some of the funds were released, the Web site offers little detail on where the money is going.
Rather, the site mainly provides links to other government agencies and features press releases. A stimulus time line reveals government agencies will not be required to provide financial reports until May 15. The site doesn’t provide any kind of search function to scour the Web site for information either.
The Sunlight Foundation’s Bill Allison praised the administration for moving in the right direction but said, “What’s there just isn’t that helpful.” He noted it would be very difficult to create a system where taxpayers could to track the money after it flows from the federal to the state to the local level. “If I live in Lancaster and I want to see the federal money coming to Lancaster and who is getting the jobs and what effect this is having locally, we are not even close to the point of being able to do that,” he said.
Sen. Tom Coburn, Oklahoma Republican, who worked with Obama to pass legislation that created USAspending.gov when Obama was a senator, is also disappointed with the results.
“Instead of being a one-stop shop for stimulus information, Recovery.gov does little more than redirect its visitors to other agency websites,” stated Coburn in a statement prepared for the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. “Without a major revamp of the website, I am afraid that taxpayers will be confused and wasteful spending will occur in secret.”
Coburn noted Recovery Accountabilty and Transparency Chief Earl Devaney had told the Wall Street Journal most of his budget, approximately $84 million, was being spent to develop the Web site.
“For that kind of money, the administration should produce a top-notch Web site. Unfortunately, the product we have seen so far leaves much to be desired,” Coburn said.