SHAHEEN APPLAUDS OMB FOR IMPROVED RECOVERY ACT JOB DATA

OMB Announces Rule Changes so that Recovery Act Data is More Accurate

December 18, 2009

(Washington, D.C.)-U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen today applauded the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for making improvements to the system for reporting and tracking jobs created by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). Last week, Shaheen, along with a bipartisan group of six Senate colleagues, called on OMB Director Peter Orszag to improve the data available at Recovery.gov.

 "Clear, accessible information is essential so all Americans can see the results of their investment," said Shaheen.  "I applaud OMB for making these important and necessary changes to the job collection data, which will increase transparency."

Last week, a bipartisan group of Senators led by Shaheen wrote in support of the Government Accountability Office's recommendations that all federal agencies standardize the performance period for calculating full-time equivalent employees (FTEs), and that the OMB instruct recipients to calculate jobs in terms of hours worked and paid for with Recovery Act funds. 

Today, OMB announced that they would be implementing the GAO recommendations that Shaheen and the bipartisan group supported.  The changes will go into effect in January.

The full text of the letter sent 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

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