September 28, 2009
The federal government Monday launched a redesigned Recovery.gov, the Web site tracking spending of this year's $787 billion economic stimulus package.
The new site includes an overhauled user interface with better navigation, improved mapping of stimulus spending, access to more data, new graphs and charts, and resources like a glossary and tutorials. Recovery.gov will display all reported stimulus spending data by the end of October, and money directly received by federal agencies can be tracked online by October 15. Stimulus recipients must register on FederalReporting.gov -- more than 22,000 have already done so -- and report on their spending by October 10. They can begin submitting spending reports on Thursday. However, it's not clear if recipients will be able to meet all the deadlines. "Current recipient registration is below expected levels, which may lead to underreporting as the October 10 deadline approaches," Peter Orszag, director of the Office of Management and Budget, wrote in a memo last month, pushing agencies to reach out to stimulus recipients and encourage them to register. Some information that recipients report to the government might not make it to Recovery.gov. Stimulus recipients have to track payments to subcontractors and vendors, stimulus spending less than $25,000, and details about job creation, but the White House hasn't mandated that this information is disclosed to the public. The Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board, made up largely of federal inspector generals, was created to oversee stimulus reporting for the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, and will manage Recovery.gov at a high level. The General Services Administration contracted with a private technology company, Smartronix, to build and manage the redesigned Web site. Other Web sites, like Recovery.org, track stimulus spending by pulling in data from a number of government sources. States also have their own stimulus tracking sites. The GSA has been criticized for the up to $18 million contract, and in a rare move, the agency released a version of the contract online earlier this summer. However, the posted contract included redacted details. After the government turned down a Freedom of Information Act request for those details, government watchdog OMB Watch appealed that decision. Separately, the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board launched a toll-free phone number, 1-877-FWA-DESK, on Monday for people to report possible stimulus fraud. Recovery.gov also includes a fraud report link.
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