Input: Recovery Act implementation improved, shortcomings remain

The Obama administration is doing better in its execution of stimulus objectives, overall, but there is still much room for improvement, says a leading research firm. Washington, D.C.-based INPUT found the administration has made strides in three of four key recovery areas, while receiving another “incomplete” in Job Creation.

Since INPUT issued its first report card in June, which measured the first 100 days of ARRA implementation, the firm said Contracting Effectiveness, Transparency & Reporting and Speed of Spending improved. However, the category of Job Creation still has too many unknowns, issuing a grade of “incomplete”.

“The federal government has continued to dispense stimulus money at a record pace,” Timothy Dowd, CEO of INPUT, said in a statement. “However, questions still remain about how that spending is translating into new jobs.”

According to INPUT, the administration spend, on average, $3.6 billion per week, keeping pace with the June report card. At that pace, the administration will achieve 87% of its previously stated goal of $350 billion by September 2010, garnering the report’s highest grade of B+.

Contracting effectiveness also received relatively high marks, raising its grade from a C- to a B, INPUT said. This grade was awarded based on the increased percentage of contracts issued as fixed price and competitively bid contracts. Additionally, small businesses have been much more involved since the June report card, receiving 27 percent of the stimulus dollars.

The third category of measurement was on Transparency & Reporting. INPUT gave the administration the lowest rating on the report for transparency, C- , despite the rollout of a revamped and the relatively successful integration of information from The key area of concern for INPUT remained from the June report, which centered on the lack of transparency surrounding applications for many of the grant programs funded by stimulus money.

Mr. Dowd encouraged the administration to rethink its approach to grant application publication, urging more citizen involvement before grants are awarded. “By allowing citizens access to grant applications before the awards are made and the opportunity to comment on those applications, federal agencies could truly be taking a proactive approach to combating fraud, waste and abuse.”

As with the June assessment, though, jobs creation remained somewhat of an unknowable. Due to the unverifiable calculations used to determine saved jobs, and the inordinate amount of public sector jobs that are dependent solely on stimulus money, INPUT gave the administration an Incomplete for Job Creation.

“While INPUT’s latest report card points to some noteworthy areas of improvement in the Administration’s execution on the stimulus, there is still much work to be done to address shortcomings across all key recovery areas,” Dowd concluded.

The Recovery Act of 2009 Report Card II: Recipient Reporting is available on INPUT’s Web site, by clicking here

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