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GAO Takes Stock of Stimulus Glitches

 The Government Accountability Office released a report (PDF) today criticizing the quality of the data used to calculate how many jobs have been generated by the stimulus.

The findings echo media reports in recent weeks. Some highlights:

  • Nearly 4,000 reports filed by recipients of stimulus money showed no dollar amount received. Yet those same reports claimed to have created or saved more than 50,000 jobs.
  • Some 9,200 reports showed no jobs, even though they spent a total of almost $1 billion in stimulus money.
  • Nearly one in 10 stimulus recipients failed to file reports.
  • Almost one quarter of reports from primary stimulus recipients were not reviewed by a federal agency.
  • Recipients used different formulas to calculate how many jobs they had created or saved.

The Washington Postsaid coverage of the glitches may be undermining confidence in the stimulus:

The constant barrage of such stories may be taking a toll. In the new Washington Post-ABC News poll, 23 percent of respondents say they think the stimulus act has hurt the economy, and 39 percent say that it has made no difference.

For more context, see today's piece by ProPublica’s Jennifer LaFleur and Michael Grabell about why some criticism might be overblown. And don't forget our Unofficial Guide to, which points out some of the tricks and traps in the government's data.

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