» This Story:Read +| Comments

Job-counting help is needed

GAO calls for clearer guidance for reporting use of stimulus funds

Discussion Policy
Comments that include profanity or personal attacks or other inappropriate comments or material will be removed from the site. Additionally, entries that are unsigned or contain "signatures" by someone other than the actual author will be removed. Finally, we will take steps to block users who violate any of our posting standards, terms of use or privacy policies or any other policies governing this site. Please review the full rules governing commentaries and discussions. You are fully responsible for the content that you post.
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, November 19, 2009

A government audit set for release Thursday urges the Obama administration to provide further guidance on how recipients of economic stimulus dollars should report jobs created with the funding.

This Story

The administration has struggled to clearly define how to report new or saved jobs since it's difficult to know what role the funding played. Further complicating efforts, state and local governments have used much of the money to pay for temporary, part-time or seasonal work, making it unclear when and how such jobs should be reported.

The Government Accountability Office found that almost 4,000 designated recipients who have not yet received stimulus funding reported creating or saving more than 58,000 jobs. Another 9,200 recipients reported no job creation, despite receiving a total of $965 million. The findings demonstrate the difficulty of counting jobs created by the stimulus.

Some recipients may have misstated job numbers. Others may have decided to retain workers or hire new ones, knowing that they will receive stimulus funding in the near future. Other recipients that already spent money are reporting zero jobs created or saved because they are applying a narrow definition for what counts as a "saved" job or because they may not be taking into account the jobs created by a subcontractor receiving funds from the recipient.

Auditors will present their findings at a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing at which members of both parties are expected to grill administration officials about errors submitted by recipients in their quarterly reports. Government officials on Wednesday corrected or removed several incorrect Zip codes or congressional districts from the reports posted on Recovery.gov, the government's stimulus-tracking Web site.

The GAO audit also found that the government has failed to review about 25 percent of the quarterly reports submitted by stimulus recipients. Vice President Biden said earlier this week that the administration has yet to review every report. "The jobs actually exist," despite concerns about the validity of stimulus data, Biden said Tuesday on "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart."

Biden noted that there have been no reports of widespread misuse of stimulus funding, but the GAO is pursuing at least eight allegations of waste or abuse of stimulus funds from more than 100 reported. The audit agency has referred at least 33 other allegations to federal inspectors general, according to the report.



» This Story:Read +| Comments
© 2009 The Washington Post Company