SENATORS CALL FOR IMPROVEMENTS TO RECOVERY ACT JOB DATA

December 10, 2009

(Washington, D.C.)-U.S. Senators  Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Chris Dodd (D-CT), Russ Feingold (D-WI), Kay Hagen (D-NC), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), and Olympia Snowe (R-ME) sent a letter to Peter Orszag, Director of the Office of Management and Budget, calling for improved tracking data on jobs created by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).

"The Recovery Act was intended to help stabilize our economy and is paving the way to long-term growth and prosperity.  However, widely reported inaccuracies in the recipient reported data available at Recovery.gov and inconsistent definitions of full-time equivalents have made it difficult to ascertain the Recovery Act's true impact on jobs.  These significant reporting and quality issues must be addressed," said the Senators in the letter to Orszag.

The bipartisan group of Senators wrote in support of Government Accountability Office recommendations that all federal agencies standardize the performance period for calculating full-time equivalents (FTEs), and that the Office of Management and Budget instruct recipients to calculate jobs in terms of hours worked and paid for with Recovery Act funds. 

The full text of the letter to Orszag follows:

December 9, 2009

Mr. Peter Orszag, Director

The Office of Management and Budget

725 17th Street, NW

Washington, DC 20503

Dear Director Orszag:

We write to urge you to work with the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to improve reporting of job creation and retention under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Recovery Act). 

The Recovery Act was intended to help stabilize our economy and is paving the way to long-term growth and prosperity.   The act mandated unprecedented reporting and transparency so that all Americans would be able to see the results of their investment, including the number of jobs created or saved.  However, widely reported inaccuracies in the recipient reported data available at Recovery.gov and inconsistent definitions of full-time equivalents (FTEs) have made it difficult to ascertain the Recovery Act's true impact on jobs.  These significant reporting and quality issues must be addressed.

A Government Accountability Office (GAO) report published November 19, as required by Section 1512 of the Recovery Act, includes a number of proposals to improve the quality of job data reporting.  We strongly support GAO's recommendations that all federal agencies standardize the performance period for calculating FTEs and that OMB instruct recipients to calculate jobs in terms of hours worked and paid for with Recovery Act funds.  These changes will improve recipient reporting and clarify the impact of our spending.   

We also agree that OMB, the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board and federal agencies must take time before the second round of reports are due in January to review quality assurance and reporting requirements to ensure that future rounds of reporting accurately reflect the good work occurring across the country.

We appreciate the hard work that has made such unprecedented transparency possible and look forward to seeing improvements in the coming weeks and months. 

Sincerely,

Senator Jeanne Shaheen

Senator Chris Dodd

Senator Russ Feingold

Senator Kay Hagen

Senator Amy Klobuchar

Senator Claire McCaskill

Senator Olympia Snowe

Press Contact

Press Office