The News Without Transparency: Federal Cash Flow to Nonexistent Districts

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In 2009 the Washington Times reported that an investigation conducted by researchers at the Franklin Center for Government & Public Integrity had found 440 nonexistent districts listed on Recovery.gov. Combined, the districts were marked as receiving $6.4 billion and creating almost 30,000 jobs. The article provides specific examples, such as the following:

  • “Recovery.gov shows 12 districts, using up more than $2.7 billion, in Washington, D.C, which only has one congressional district.”
  • “Recovery.gov also shows 2,893.9 jobs created with $194,537,372 in stimulus funding in New Hampshire’s 00 congressional district. But, there is no such thing.”
  • “The site also shows $1,471,518 going to New Hampshire’s 6th congressional district, $1,033,809 to the 4th congressional district and $124,774 to the 27th congressional district. In fact, New Hampshire only has two congressional districts; inviting confusion about where the money listed for the 00, 4th, 6th and 27th districts is going.”
The Franklin Center’s full data delves even deeper into discrepancies on Recovery.gov. While this article certainly illustrates that Recovery.gov is far from a perfect resource, it is an article that would not have been possible without access to the data offered on the website. Recovery.gov provides us – the public – with the ability to conduct our own investigations into how the government is spending taxpayer dollars and to uncover discrepancies such as the ones identified in the Washington Times article.

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“The News Without Transparency” shows you what the news would look like without public access to information. Laws and regulations that force the government to make the data it has publicly available are absolutely vital, along with services that take that raw data and make it easy for reporters to write sentences like the ones we’ve redacted in the piece above. If you have an article you’d like us to put through the redaction machine, please send us an email at mbuck@sunlightfoundation.com.

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