Recovery chief: Yeah, I can’t back up those numbers

posted at 10:12 am on November 18, 2009 by Ed Morrissey

Over the last couple of weeks, the media and the blogosphere has dissected the numbers coming from Recovery.gov and found them laughably phony.  The pièce de resistance came when Watchdog.org noticed that the government-run accountability website appeared not to know that the US has only 435 Congressional districts, instead of the 875 listed on the website — but listed almost $6.4 billion in spending in the phantom districts.  However, as we have seen here, phony “saved or created” numbers are the norm, not the exception, and most of the jobs data are insupportable.

And even Earl Devaney, the man in charge at Recovery.org, can’t deny it.  In a response to Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), Devaney says that he cannot certify any of the jobs data published by the government:

The chairman of the Obama administration’s Recovery Board is telling lawmakers that he can’t certify jobs data posted at the Recovery.gov Web site — and doesn’t have access to a “master list” of stimulus recipients that have neglected to report data.

Earl Devaney, the chairman of the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board, responded to questions posed by Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., late yesterday to say the board can’t vouch for the numbers submitted by recipients of stimulus funding.

“Your letter specifically asks if I am able to certify that the number of jobs reported as created/saved on Recovery.gov is accurate and auditable. No, I am not able to make this certification,” Devaney wrote, in a letter provided to ABC News.

Devaney rejected Issa’s suggestion that the site include a more prominent disclaimer, such as an asterisk or a footnote. He said the site already does mention in a note to users that “errors and omissions” are likely.

Issa responded:

“This just confirms what we already know, that [the] Administration cannot certify info on recovery.gov as accurate and auditable. The man charged with providing accountability for stimulus spending cannot verify the accuracy of the job reports that the Administration – filtered through [the Office of Management and Budget] – have provided him.”

“It’s a startling admission that he hasn’t even been provided with a list of who should have reported, which means he can’t know who didn’t report, which just adds fuel to the argument that the whole effort at transparency has failed. The Administration has provided inaccurate data, missing data, data that might be missing but they don’t even know for sure.

Issa should give Devaney a break. The problem isn’t Devaney, or at least not entirely his.  Devaney should get the heave-ho after the database errors that Watchdog.org discovered, for example.  The failure to set up an $18 million database to restrict for proper Congressional district data is inexplicable.  It’s the kind of error that people using a $200 copy of Microsoft Access would have easily avoided.

However, Devaney can’t certify the jobs data for a more fundamental reason: it’s all fake.  The “saved or created” formulas from the White House do not relate to reality, even when properly reported back to Recovery.gov.  As we have seen in state after state, the jobs listed as “saved” were mostly never at risk in the first place.  In most cases, they were public-safety and education jobs that would have been spared in favor of other, less critical bureaucrat positions that states didn’t want to highlight as existing, let alone being “saved.”

Devaney’s incompetence on database maintenance only makes the problem more obvious.  In fact, it may overshadow the real shell games being conducted with Porkulus funds as this administration desperately tries to claim job creation as unemployment spirals to new highs.


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If the government posted its G/L, why should I trust it?

We need to build a smaller trough.

WashJeff on November 18, 2009 at 11:07 AM

875 districts but only 435 seats in Congress for representation. We don’t have enough deck chairs in Congress by less then half.

Electrongod on November 18, 2009 at 11:07 AM

If the government posted its G/L, why should I trust it?

Exactly. Who is going to audit the Federal Government to ensure its accuracy. Who -could- audit it?

katablog.com on November 18, 2009 at 11:01 AM

Here’s the real joke, right? recovery.gov cost $12 million dollars to make (if memory serves). And all it seems to do is query a database and produce tables from data. And it doesn’t even check to see if the data might be flawed (imagine a simple query that checks to see if a district even exists or not). That costs like $200 from any sane computer programmer. It’s easy. I could manage it – and I’m an html/php moron.

lorien1973 on November 18, 2009 at 11:11 AM

Where is the Money? Guess they didn’t quit funding ACORN after all. Don’t stand close to the White House when they break for the holidays because you will get run over. There is going to be a purge like never seen before…In My Humble Opinion.

Dire Straits on November 18, 2009 at 11:16 AM

Lorien, they spent 18 million on it. Enough for a small high tech start up with 10 or more people, for a couple YEARS.

Issa should give Devaney a break.

No, he should not. The man should be fired. These people are lying to us every day.

dogsoldier on November 18, 2009 at 11:18 AM

The failure to set up an $18 million database to restrict for proper Congressional district data is inexplicable. It’s the kind of error that people using a $200 copy of Microsoft Access would have easily avoided.

It’s not even that difficult. I’m a web development analyst for a large company and just the web interface could have stopped this. It’s called functions and logic. Drop down list of states, pick a state and depending on which state is picked show another drop down list of the congressional districts in that particular state.

It doesn’t even need to be on the back end, it can be prevented on the front end.

MobileVideoEngineer on November 18, 2009 at 11:19 AM

Dire Straits on November 18, 2009 at 11:16 AM

Yes indeed – where has all the money gone, long time passing?

sceptical on November 18, 2009 at 11:21 AM

And all it seems to do is query a database and produce tables from data. And it doesn’t even check to see if the data might be flawed (imagine a simple query that checks to see if a district even exists or not). That costs like $200 from any sane computer programmer. It’s easy. I could manage it – and I’m an html/php moron.

[lorien1973 on November 18, 2009 at 11:11 AM]

There’s lot of cool graphics that mesmerize and impress, though. I especially like the “Page is stalled, Please Wait” icon on the map page that eventually brings up:

[RPC Fault faultString=”HTTP request error” faultCode=”Server.Error.Request” faultDetail=”Error: [IOErrorEvent type="ioError" bubbles=false cancelable=false eventPhase=2 text="Error #2032"]. URL: http://www.recovery.gov/esri.maps?http://172.18.99.100/ArcGISRecovery/rest/services/POP_STATES_AWARD_SUM/MapServer/0/query?outFields=NAME%2CSTATECODE%2CCountOfAwards%2CCountOfContracts%2CCountOfGrants%2CCountOfLoans%2CSumOfAwards%2CSumOfContracts%2CSumOfGrants%2CSumOfLoans%2CFIPS%2CContract%5FJobs%2CGrant%5FJobs%2CLoan%5FJobs%2CSumOfAwardAmountContracts%2CSumOfAwardAmountGrants%2CSumOfAwardAmountLoans&f=json&geometry=%7B%22x%22%3A%2D75%2E47210546875%2C%22y%22%3A43%2E36718359375%2C%22spatialReference%22%3A%7B%22wkid%22%3A4326%7D%7D&geometryType=esriGeometryPoint&spatialRel=esriSpatialRelIntersects&outSR=4326&returnGeometry=true“]

Even at $100k, it’s worth the waste, fraud and abuse of tax dollars.

Dusty on November 18, 2009 at 11:21 AM

When you can’t win on the facts, the Democrat leadership, starting with Bama, invents what they need and hope not to get caught. Baghdad Bob was a child compared to these people. Goebbels is grinning ear-to-ear.

I am not sure even Nixon approaches the level of deception the Dems have taken on. He at least could release his college transcripts, though I don’t know if that was regular thing back then. Old GWB, that fabled liar, did.

Harry Schell on November 18, 2009 at 11:23 AM

Sorry, I didn’t mean to create a link from the notice; I just copied the notice on the popup. It did it automatically because of a url in it.

Dusty on November 18, 2009 at 11:24 AM

capejasmine on November 18, 2009 at 11:05 AM:

And the good news: People are catching on. Slow, but sure.

katablog.com on November 18, 2009 at 11:26 AM

I get where you are coming from. I’d like to see it too.

It’ll never happen, not only because what people would want (immediate answers) is damned near impossible, but because people would nitpick every $2 check that went to something. It’d just bog everything down.

Hmmm…now that I think about it, it’s not a bad idea. Heh.

lorien1973 on November 18, 2009 at 11:00 AM

This would be what we normally call “accountability”. Its our money, not Pelosi’s.

When this level of detail becomes readily available to the casual observer, it’ll be like flipping on the light switch during a cockroach convention in the kitchen.

BobMbx on November 18, 2009 at 11:31 AM

It’s not even that difficult. I’m a web development analyst for a large company and just the web interface could have stopped this. It’s called functions and logic. Drop down list of states, pick a state and depending on which state is picked show another drop down list of the congressional districts in that particular state.

It doesn’t even need to be on the back end, it can be prevented on the front end.

MobileVideoEngineer on November 18, 2009 at 11:19 AM

Liberal Lexicon (a twofer!):

Logic: {no entry}

Details: Barriers to progress.

BobMbx on November 18, 2009 at 11:33 AM

What happened to the financial watchdog, sheriff Joe (3 letters-jobs) Biden?
O-bow-ma appointed Biden to oversee stimulus waste and, once again, O-bow-ma lied.

JOE WILSON WAS RIGHT!

Did this administration add these phony voting districts for Acorn funding or to add cash to their fading re-election hopes?

dthorny on November 18, 2009 at 11:35 AM

chairman of the Recovery Accountability and Transparency

I sure do like that job title. Maybe everyone should make up impressive meaningless titles for himself. I think I will be president of the emperors club.

burt on November 18, 2009 at 11:35 AM

Yes indeed – where has all the money gone, long short time passing?

sceptical on November 18, 2009 at 11:21 AM

FIFY

Yoop on November 18, 2009 at 11:46 AM

Baghdad Bob appointed truth czar.

rjoco1 on November 18, 2009 at 11:47 AM

Of course, this sort of gross incompetence is avoided in the House health care bill, right?

Kafir on November 18, 2009 at 11:00 AM

LOL. That’s a side splitter!

scalleywag on November 18, 2009 at 11:52 AM

In fact, it may overshadow the real shell games being conducted with Porkulus funds as this administration desperately tries to claim job creation as unemployment spirals to new highs.

Bingo Ed. The point that must be driven home is that this is not due to clerical errors, it’s that “stimulus” never had a prayer of helping the economy.
Actually, the fact that the numbers are so out of touch only underscores the problem, Government screws things up. Nearly everything they touch.

JusDreamin on November 18, 2009 at 11:53 AM

I sure do like that job title. Maybe everyone should make up impressive meaningless titles for himself. I think I will be president of the emperors club.

burt on November 18, 2009 at 11:35 AM

BobMbx = Czar of Life, the Universe, and everything.

Top that.

BobMbx on November 18, 2009 at 11:53 AM

I thought Sheriff Joe was supposed to be on top of all this.

GarandFan on November 18, 2009 at 11:53 AM

This administration is full of liars and lying liars.

omnipotent on November 18, 2009 at 11:54 AM

BobMbx = Czar of Life, the Universe, and everything.

Top that.

BobMbx on November 18, 2009 at 11:53 AM

Easy challenge…

Barack Hussein Obama

He told me so…

mmmmm mmmmm mmmmm

/sarc.

Yoop on November 18, 2009 at 12:01 PM

And let’s not forget that Obama’s donor list was never revealed. All of this is straight out of the democrat script from 1930. There is nothing at all new. Hoover in attempting to soften the downturn in a capitalist economy was mercilessly hounded by a campaigning governor from New York for his fiscal lapses while a hostile congress worked as hard as it could to thwart any effort to cooperate. Hoover attempted to acquiesce for the good of the country prior to the 1932 election and was humiliated by congress and Roosevelt (TARP anyone?). Roosevelt inherited a $1 billion debt in March 1933 (his inaugeration)and was handed $3.3 billion from congress by the summer of 1933 to stimulate the economy. By 1934 things were at least stabilized by appearence but several of his schemes (NRA,AAA etc.) were ruled unconstitutional. The hog slaughters to drive up pork prices, the Ag subsidies to pay farmers not to grow crops to drive up produce prices, the forced unionization of every sector of the labor force to drive up wages were trapping more of the popultation into government programs. With his popularity plummeting he held back spending until September of 1935 through September 1936 and bought hisself a new round so that with the bravado of winning in 1936 he attempted his court packing effort because of their earlier rulings on the alphabet agencies.

Does anybody know why he stated the courts needed to be filled with extra supremes? The reason he had cited all along was because the supremes were getting older than 70 years and he maintained the docket was backed up because they could not perform. When the hearings began on the issue what derailed the whole thing turned out to be their docket was cleared after all. Sound familiar? Wasn’t health care reform initiated to stem the costs? Now they can’t defend that so they won’t even talk about it. It’s the moral thing to do, every other country does it, we can’t sustain the current condition, blahblahblah.

The same communists and socialists that populated the Roosevelt administration have a parallel in Obama’s. Look up Harry Hopkins, Harold Ickes, Sr., Henry Wallace for an idea of who was providing his advice.

Yes, we’ve been down this road and there is no reason to do so again. Read The Roosevelt Myth by James T. Flynn (1948). You will know why Rush is able to predict so much so accuratly.

DanMan on November 18, 2009 at 12:20 PM

The man charged with providing accountability for stimulus spending cannot verify the accuracy of the job reports

There’s one job “created” that shouldn’t be “saved” by the stimulus.

taznar on November 18, 2009 at 12:34 PM

Here’s the real joke, right? recovery.gov cost $12 million dollars to make (if memory serves). And all it seems to do is query a database and produce tables from data. And it doesn’t even check to see if the data might be flawed (imagine a simple query that checks to see if a district even exists or not). That costs like $200 from any sane computer programmer. It’s easy. I could manage it – and I’m an html/php moron.

lorien1973 on November 18, 2009 at 11:11 AM

Hey, whaddya want for less than $1bn. This is the big leagues were talking about here — the adults are in charge. You don’t get jack for a piddling $18mm.

mr.blacksheep on November 18, 2009 at 12:45 PM

mr.blacksheep on November 18, 2009 at 12:45 PM

were = we’re

mr.blacksheep on November 18, 2009 at 12:47 PM

Call me old-fashioned but I think there should be a central point in government with a ledger/spreadsheet which can tell the taxpayer where every cent of the stimulus dollars federal money taxpayer dollars went. Not to which organization but to whom, by name, got the check.

highhopes on November 18, 2009 at 10:37 AM

Agree, with a slight amendment.

BobMbx on November 18, 2009 at 10:49 AM

Agree, with a slight amendment.

j_galt on November 18, 2009 at 12:55 PM

chairman of the Recovery Accountability and Transparency

I sure do like that job title. Maybe everyone should make up impressive meaningless titles for himself. I think I will be president of the emperors club.

burt on November 18, 2009 at 11:35 AM

Heh. Yeah, I like it, too. Especially the fact that it’s the “RAT Board”.

KS Rex on November 18, 2009 at 1:09 PM

$18 Million for a web site? Dude, you so stoooopid!
That, or you’re a lib.

Blacksmith8 on November 18, 2009 at 1:43 PM

No, he should not. The man should be fired. These people are lying to us every day.

dogsoldier on November 18, 2009 at 11:18 AM

Fire him first, then charge him with embezzlement and wire fraud. According to Tom Cruise “I know it’s not sexy, but it’s got teeth.”

Blacksmith8 on November 18, 2009 at 1:48 PM

When in doubt, make it up.
Congress directly reflects the success of our nation’s public school system.
Unbelievable.

Badger40 on November 18, 2009 at 1:51 PM

Actually, the fact that the numbers are so out of touch only underscores the problem, Government screws things up. Nearly EVERYTHING they touch.

JusDreamin on November 18, 2009 at 11:53 AM

FIFY

Blacksmith8 on November 18, 2009 at 1:53 PM

Not just liars but damn liars.

Yakko77 on November 18, 2009 at 2:42 PM

Well there’s a simple problem with the jobs numbers; I’ve seen this before in database applications. I’ve even had to describe this issue in the past.

The problem appears to exist between the keyboard and the chair.

That answer usually gives me a second to walk away before the blame starts. Other answers provide less of a head-start.

gekkobear on November 18, 2009 at 2:56 PM

The bottom line about the incompetence setting up the database:

If you’re not spending your own money, then you really don’t give a *****.

PackerBronco on November 18, 2009 at 3:23 PM

Earl Devaney, the chairman of the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board, responded to questions posed by Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., late yesterday to say the board can’t vouch for the numbers submitted by recipients of stimulus funding.

If the board cannot vouch for the numbers, then I respectfully suggest that they stick the numbers up their a$$e$, the sources from which they pulled them

ya2daup on November 18, 2009 at 6:32 PM

BobMbx on November 18, 2009 at 11:53 AM

ya2daup, Czar of All Czars!

ya2daup on November 18, 2009 at 6:36 PM

As we have seen in state after state, the jobs listed as “saved” were mostly never at risk in the first place. In most cases, they were public-safety and education jobs that would have been spared in favor of other, less critical bureaucrat positions that states didn’t want to highlight as existing, let alone being “saved.”

But, but, ut, according to recovery.gov, it states the following:One of the key goals of the Recovery Act is to create and save jobs, largely in the private sector. The Recovery plan will fund many projects throughout the country, from building bridges and weatherizing homes to small business startups. Companies involved will either hire new employees or keep employees who otherwise might have been let go.

Something doesn’t compute here.

AH_C on November 18, 2009 at 9:48 PM

Poor Interior Department Inspector General (former) Earl Devaney, he can’t help it. He reports to Sheriff Joe Biden.

… The panel will review whether stimulus-related contracts and grants are being issued legally, transparently and competitively; and examine if there are sufficient and adequately trained acquisition and grant personnel to implement the spending and promote interagency cooperation, the Recovery Act states.

Devaney’s group also will be tasked with “auditing or reviewing covered funds to determine whether wasteful spending, poor contract or grant management, or other abuses are occurring and referring matters it considers appropriate for investigation to the inspector general for the agency that disbursed the covered funds.”

The board will submit to Congress and the administration flash reports on potential management and funding problems requiring immediate attention, as well as quarterly and annual reports. All reports will be available at Recovery.gov, or at a new recovery board Web site, which will launch soon…

Notice the difference in what was pronounced as his charter back then and what he now claims he is unable to do, per Ed’s story.

For more hopey, changey bs on Devaney @ Recovery.gov, do a search for Earl Devaney at the above link’s search engine. Hehehe.

AH_C on November 18, 2009 at 10:03 PM

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