Stimulus Spending Data Is About to Disappear



In January of 2009, just days after Barack Obama had assumed the presidency, he announced his intention to pass a massive fiscal stimulus within just a few weeks. He recognized some resistance on the part of the public to such an ambitious plan, and he understood it, he said, which is "why this recovery plan will include unprecedented measures that will allow the American people to hold my Administration accountable."

Among those measures would be a website to track the spending, open to all. "Every American will be able to see how and where we spend taxpayer dollars by going to a new website called," Obama said. "restoring transparency is not only the surest way to achieve results" but also the best way to earn back the public's lost trust in government."

All of this would be part of a newly invigorated effort "to root out waste, inefficiency, and unnecessary spending in our government."

After the passage of the stimulus, that website went live, and for the last several years, it has provided a valuable resource to journalists, policy analysts, critics, and supporters of the law. But now the data is about to disappear. Unless something changes, all of the relevant tracking information will disappear at the end of the month, because the government is dropping its contract with the company that manages and keeps the information. From The Washington Post:

The data will disappear because the government board that oversees the Web site and ensures the stimulus money is spent properly is not renewing its license with Dun & Bradstreet, a major U.S. financial firm that assigns an identification number to all entities doing business with the federal government. When the license expires at the end of this month, those identification numbers — and other associated data — will no longer be available to the government.

No numbers, no way to track the money….Nancy DiPaolo, chief of congressional and intergovernmental affairs for the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board, said that it was not fiscally prudent to renew the license and that the board would be forced to take down the recipient data. The cost to renew the license would be between $900,000 and $1.4 million.

Under the terms of its sole-source contract with the government, Dun & Bradstreet owns the actual data on the numbers used to identify and track contractors through the stimulus, according to the Post. "Once the contract ends, the information must be deleted from government databases."

On the surface, at least, this sounds like the federal government—and taxpayers—got taken by a contract intended to create long-term lock-in. As with so many of the stimulus dollars it tracked, it was money that was probably not well spent. 

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  1. Most Transparent Administration Ever.

  2. You can almost hear Paul Krugman writing his next column about how stimulus tracking failed because the stimulus was too small.

    1. It writes itself.

      1. Shh. Don’t let the secret out. They still pay him for that drivel.

  3. The data will disappear because the government board that oversees the Web site and ensures the stimulus money is spent properly is not renewing its license with Dun & Bradstreet,

    You’d think a big media corporation (like, say, WaPo or NYT) would be willing to pony up the fee to keep that license active.

    1. Sorry, lap-dogs don’t make good guard dogs.

    2. Dun & Bradstreet owns the actual data

      The stupidity of government is breathtaking and never-ending.

      1. What makes you think this wasn’t the plan from day one?

  4. For a moment, a brief moment, I thought the headline read “Stimulus Spending is About to Disappear,” and I felt a glimmer of joy in my heart for the end of a wasteful overbloated government policy.

    Then I read the article, and re-read the headline, and it was gone.

  5. ARRA has pretty much run its course and there isn’t much ARRA money being given out anymore, so no biggie.

    Of course, more reporting on the use of public funds would be a big improvement.

    1. IIRC, it all had to be spent within three years (or so).

      Of course, it’d be nice to be able to look back and see who got what when different places come on the scene. ie, this company is now working on something else — how much did they waste on the stimulus? Some former mayor running for higher office — how much did they get for the dog park?

  6. If the concern is with historical data, the story says that D&B will own the data. I keep reading here how we should put property in private hands.

    1. maddarter|9.12.14 @ 2:31PM|#
      “If the concern is with historical data, the story says that D&B will own the data. I keep reading here how we should put property in private hands.”


    2. I keep reading here how we should put property in private hands.

      I’m willing to bet you haven’t actually read anything here at all, or else you would have realized that you’re begging the question “is information property?”

  7. OT: When you’ve lost the Times……..share&_r=0

    1. But of course, there are still the dedicated slurpers in the comments:

      Gwbear Florida 6 hours ago
      How often can this President come forward and lead, cajole, explain, *BEG* Congress to do Something… *ANYTHING* – to just once work with Him for the Good of this nation?! The fault here is entirely with the GOTP, who have long passed the point of Treason when it comes to betraying their oaths of office, and doing all that can humanly be done to block government’s proper function, just because they lost two elections.

      Obama is a Constitutional Scholar. He knows his role. He cannot sit idly by on national or international affairs, and simply pretend that events are not continuing to occur that require deliberation, and some kind of response from our leaders.

      Constitutional Scholar!!! (Caps not mine, sadly). DO NOTHING CONGRESS!!! OBSTRUCTIONISTS!!!

      Talking point Bingo.

      1. ‘Him’, including the capital ‘H’?

        1. In fairness, he did leave the (PBU) out of it.

        2. Suffered through enough of the comments to look, and yes, that person did indeed capitalize the H.

          I truly have no words.

      2. This Gwbear fucker doesn’t seem to understand the term “treason”. Or apparently think it should apply to anyone but the GOP.

        Go figure.

      3. I’m sure the writer believed the exact same thing when Bush was frustrated with a Democratic-controlled House. Right?

        1. No, because Bush gave them what they wanted – an unfunded entitlement program, SarBox, and NCLB, and TARP. Why would he need to fight Team Blue?

          Oh, and he also prosecuted 2 wars that got good support from Team Blue while he was in office and which they came to love after he left office.

  8. my best friend’s aunt makes $62 hourly on the computer . She has been out of a job for 6 months but last month her pay was $13466 just working on the computer for a few hours. Look At This ……


    1. So you mean that if just 67 (give or take) government worker drones click on that and use it for a month, they’d be able to pay off the bill?

  9. They shouldn’t have kept the stimulus data on the IRS servers!

  10. Does the Wayback Machine have the site backed up? Surely someone must have the hard disk space to just wget the thing up.

  11. Slightly OT:

    There is this guy I have been thinking about removing from my Facebook friends list for some time. He posts constantly all kinds of prig bullshit, and I struggle not to make fun of him. Any time we debate anything he just uses a bunch of talking points and ad homonym.

    Anyway, he posted about how he was writing a paper about the budget, and finished with some line in praise of Keynes, and I could not help but say something.

    Writing a paper on how terrible a balanced budget amendment would do to the US economy. “I’d rather be in a foxhole with Keynes than Friedman. Keynes would call in artillery. Friedman would simply give up while lamenting the fact that there are indeed, people trying to kill him.”

    I think Keynes would call artillery on himself in an effort to “do something”

    Friedman is dead and so are his ideas in serious policy discussions. But I’m sure you can engage Friedman economists at a Heritage Foundation circle jerk. When the chips are down, policymakers will act with the facts they have, not to fulfill a classical ideology.

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