“A mixed review”…That’s the verdict the Coalition for an Accountable Recovery (CAR) has given the Office of Management and Budget’s (OMB) final guidance for reporting data on use of funds under the $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, the Recovery Act. Sunlight's own review is far less mixed. (CAR’s press release can be accessed here (PDF).)
Speaking for the coalition, Gary Bass, OMB Watch’s director and CAR’s co-chair, applauded the significant transparency steps OMB has taken in certain key respects. However, much data from the recipients of Recovery Act funds will not be collected or disclosed according the the new guidelines. “If the Recovery Act is to fulfill President Obama’s promise about taxpayers being able to go online and see how every dime is spent, then we need sub-recipients’ and sub-sub recipients’ data online, too,” Gary said. “This not only includes how the money was spent but also who benefited.” CAR believes its essential to collect data on race, class, gender, disability and other measures of equity in order to properly assess the success of the Recovery Act.
Also absent from the new instruction is a requirement to make raw data public. By not including raw data at Recovery.gov, transparency is dramatically reduced. Sunlight has argued strongly for raw data in machine readable formats as the starting point for Recovery.gov. This is a significant failure by the Administration to live up to its promise for full and complete disclosure. Significant failure.
CAR was formed to promote accountability for both federal government agencies doling out the trillions of dollars, for the states and for the companies that benefit from recovery funds. The best way to assure taxpayers that the funds are being used responsibly is to provide full transparency on stimulus spending and to make the details of the stimulus available in online, in real time.
The direction Reovery.gov is heading is not good enough.