Congress to Investigate Fake Districts
Amanda Carpenter broke the news Tuesday that “The government Web site that promised to show exactly where the $787 billion in stimulus spending was going to ‘create or save’ jobs is allocating billions of tax dollars to hundreds of congressional districts that don’t exist.”
Researchers at the Franklin Center for Government & Public Integrity found 440 “phantom districts” listed on Recovery.gov, consuming $6.4 billion and creating or saving nearly 30,000 jobs. Their findings are listed HERE.
For example, Recovery.gov shows 12 districts, using up more than $2.7 billion, in Washington, D.C, which only has one congressional district. [Actually, it has none. – jhj]
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.
After being beat over the head with this on the blogs, Twitter, and the late-night comic shows, the White House admitted error and has said it’ll put out a more accurate list, while muttering something about distractions.
It seems, however, that the House Government Reform and Oversight Committee is less than amused and will hold hearings on the matter. Others in Congress were also upset — and not just the usual suspects.
The errors raised the ire of Rep. Dave Obey, D-Wisconsin, and chairman of the House Appropriations Committee. On Monday, he said the mistakes “are outrageous and the administration owes itself, the Congress and every American a commitment to work night and day to correct the ludicrous mistakes.”
“Credibility counts in government, and stupid mistakes like this undermine it. We’ve got too many serious problems in this country to let that happen,” Obey said.
While I agree in principle, the reality is that large bureaucracies continually make incredibly boneheaded mistakes of this variety. The key is transparency, which lets interested parties quickly spot problems and get them corrected — as happened in this case.
It is, however, refreshing to see Congress investigate something that is actually under their purview and to do so with a president of the same political party that controls both Houses. That’s how the system is supposed to work but, alas, frequently doesn’t.