WASHINGTON -- The government watchdog overseeing economic stimulus spending says the White House was too quick to take credit for saving or creating 640,000 jobs.
The White House trumpeted job figures released last month, saying they proved the administration is on track to save or create 3.5 million jobs by the end of next year, the Associated Press reported Thursday.
But Earl Devaney, whose agency collected and released the data, said Thursday there are too many errors to know how many jobs have been created. Under questioning on Capitol Hill, he agreed that the White House should have acknowledged the doubt surrounding the numbers.
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The downside of the unprecedented transparency is embarrassment, and there's enough embarrassment over the accounting problems to go around, Devaney said.
The report is only the latest revelation that the administration's much-ballyhooed stimulus effort has been mired in waste, poor reporting and mismanagement.
The Government Accountability Office found that almost 4,000 designated recipients who have not yet received stimulus funding reported creating or saving more than 58,000 jobs, according to The Washington Post. Another 9,200 recipients reported no job creation, despite receiving a total of $965 million. The findings demonstrate the difficulty of counting jobs the stimulus might have created.
The administration also has failed to review about 25 percent of the quarterly reports stimulus recipients have submitted, the GAO audit also says.
Some recipients have misstated job numbers, according to the audit. Others may have retained workers or hired new ones intentionally, knowing that they will receive stimulus funding in the near future. Some that already spent money are reporting zero jobs created or saved because they are applying a narrow definition for what counts as a "saved" job or because they may not be taking into account the jobs created by a subcontractor receiving funds from the recipient, the Post reported.
Meanwhile, the House Government Reform and Oversight Committee planned to ask some tough questions Thursday about faulty data on the Obama administration's Recovery.gov Web site.
The site is fixing errors that appeared to show hundreds of millions of stimulus dollars were spent in nonexistent congressional districts, the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board said Wednesday.
The errors, which ABC News reported first, were seen on Recovery.gov summary pages breaking down how many stimulus dollars were received in each state's congressional districts.
Arizona's page, for example, showed the state's 52nd, 15th, and 86th congressional districts received hundreds of thousands of dollars in stimulus money, according to CNN affiliate KNXV. However, no such districts exist in Arizona, which has only eight congressional districts.
On Wednesday, the Franklin Center for Government & Public Integrity said it found such errors on pages for all 50 states, four territories, and Washington, D.C., CNN reported. More than $6.4 billion in stimulus funds were shown as being spent — and more than 28,420 jobs saved or created — in 440 false districts, the Center's report stated.
All of this follows a somewhat strained appearance by Vice President Joe Biden on Comedy Central's "Daily Show" Tuesday night in which he claimed the errors didn't indicate unaccounted-for spending but rather were the result of political ignorance.
He blamed the citizens, not the administration.
"There was bad civics classes for those" who reported the data, Biden said. "They had to fill out a form, what district are you in, and there was no such district."
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