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What to Expect When You're Expecting Stimulus Data

File photo from WDCPIXPeter Orszag, director of the president's Office of Management and Budget, sent out a 62-page memo to department and agency heads Wednesday, outlining how to comply with the transparency and accountability provisions of the stimulus package.

The headline: It might be a while before we get data we can believe in.

Federal agencies will start submitting weekly reports on March 3. But those reports don't have to include spending information until April 6. And even then, it might just be totals.

Cinco de Mayois the day we might see detailed project data in the format similar to

States are due to begin reporting on July 10, but it will only be updated quarterly. They'll have to include the name of each project, a description, an estimate of the number of jobs for each project and the name of who's in charge. But if the state allocates money to cities or other entities, how much will be reported is fuzzier.

"For instance, a grant could be given from the federal government to State A, which then gives a subgrant to City B (within State A), which hires a contractor to construct a bridge, which then hires a subcontractor to supply the concrete," Orszag explains. "In this case, State A is the prime recipient and would be required to report the subgrant to City B. However, City B does not have any specific reporting obligations, nor does the contractor or subcontractor for the purposes of reporting for the Web site."

The White House press office did not return our calls or e-mails to find out what happens when the old lady swallows a cat to catch the bird to catch the spider that wiggled and jiggled and tickled inside her.

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