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.
“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.