Federal Eye: Stimulus Reports Could Cause Risk, Confusion

As Obama administration officials traveled the country this week announcing the distribution of hundreds of millions of dollars in new economic stimulus grants, a new government Web site began accepting the critical spending and jobs data from grant recipients that will provide the first fact-based progress report about the economic recovery efforts.

By mid-October the government plans to post information from stimulus money recipients online, allowing the public the chance to review the data and draw their own conclusions. President Obama promised unprecedented transparency as he built support for the stimulus package this year, promising that anyone would be able to track each dollar.

Government observers, many who applaud the act of transparency, also note that the move may provoke as many questions as answers.

“This is a game changer,” said Donald F. Kettl, dean of the University of Maryland School of Public Policy.

“We don’t know what it’s going to mean, how it’s going to work. It’s part of the administration’s central strategy of accountability.”

Stimulus recipients have until Oct. 1 to register with FederalReporting.gov, which launched Monday. Once registered, they have until mid-October to submit their first progress report, which must include detailed information about how and where the money is spent, and the number of jobs created by the funding. Recipients could face legal action if they purposely report incorrect data.

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