Journalism in the Public Interest

Eye on the Stimulus

Gov’t Wrongly Labels Some Stimulus Recipients ‘Losers’

Weeks Marine Inc. was one of at least 60 stimulus recipients identified by ProPublica that were wrongly included on a government list of 'two-time-losers,' or contractors accused of flouting stimulus rules by failing to file two required spending reports.

Weeks Marine won a $5 million stimulus contract to dredge the Mississippi River Delta in Plaquemines Parish, La. The family-owned firm put 37 people to work from June to September. When the project ended, it reported all this for public view on the government's stimulus Web site,

Yet Weeks Marine recently found itself on a government list of "two-time losers," accused of flouting stimulus rules by failing to file two required reports telling taxpayers how it spent their money.

"I don't know why we're on the list," said Win Apel, general counsel for the New Jersey-based dredging company. "We did in fact file the report."

Introducing Recovery Tracker 3.0: Look Up Stimulus Projects in Your County

Getty Images We can’t get enough of stimulus data and we know you can’t either, so we’ve updated our Recovery Tracker and added some new features. And you can now count more stimulus money closer to home because we included more information about local projects.

Dive in and see what stimulus money is going to your county.

Once again, we took the latest data on the government’s stimulus Web site,, cleaned it up, and added thousands of additional spending records. Our previous trackers showed just the prime recipient. This time, we’ve tracked the money to the sub-recipients where we could. That means that instead of seeing a chunk of money going to your state Department of Education, you’ll see how much money your local counties received from the state.

Nearly 40 Percent of Stimulus Paid Out

The City of West Hollywood received $1 million in federal funds from the stimulus for the Sunset Strip Beautification Project seen here. (Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)The Obama administration has paid out $309 billion of the nearly $800 billion stimulus, according to the latest figures available from and the White House. That includes $190 billion in spending and $119 billion in tax cuts issued so far.

You can check out the details on our interactive Stimulus Progress Bar, which shows how much agencies have spent.

Anniversary of Stimulus Met with Praise and Scorn

Getty ImagesA year ago, Congress passed one of the biggest-ever attempts to spend the United States out of an economic maelstrom. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act stands as one of President Obama’s signature initiatives — a mix of tax cuts, financial aid and infrastructure projects worth some $800 billion.

Has the stimulus lived up to its promise? As we’ve reported before, where you stand depends on where you sit.

The White House is marking today’s anniversary with a stimulus progress report (PDF), which claims the Recovery Act has created or saved 2 million jobs; extended unemployment benefits for almost 20 million Americans; and cut taxes for more than 95 percent of working families. The administration says that by the end of last month, the combination of tax cuts and obligated funds came to a total of $453 billion.

"The work that you set us out to do a year ago is going well," Vice President Joe Biden writes in his cover letter to the president. "I believe that we have served the American people well."

You won’t be surprised to hear that Republicans feel differently.


Our New List of Stimulus Investigations

Feb. 17: This post has been corrected.

Click to see our list of stimulus investigations.With the anniversary of the stimulus upon us, politicians are likely to bombard us with numbers: 1.5 million to 2 million jobs created or saved, about $300 billion out the door, some $150 billion in the pipeline. The Democratic Policy Committee keeps a list of success stories while Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., has published two reports of 100 "wasteful" projects.

One number that's been especially hard to pin down: the cost of waste, fraud and abuse.

Already there have been scattered reports about stimulus contractors that are under investigation or that have had serious violations in their past. Using estimates from fraud experts, the government's stimulus watchdog, Earl Devaney, has said as much as $55 billion could be lost.

But no one knows for sure. So to get at the big picture, we at ProPublica decided to start tracking inspector general reports, auditor investigations and news accounts about questionable contractors. We'll be updating our stimulus investigations list regularly -- so if you have new information about a case or one we should add, e-mail it to

Correction: This post originally said that another $333 billion in stimulus funds is in the pipeline to be spent. That figure actually refers to stimulus funds that have been obligated. The amount of money in the pipeline -- that is, obligated but not spent -- is some $150 billion.

Track the Stimulus: Interactive Tools

Recovery Tracker
Find stimulus projects happening near you. (Updated: March 2010)
Want CSVs of our stimulus data? Fill out this signup form.

Stimulus Speed Chart
Which government agencies are the slowest at getting stimulus money out the door? Updated weekly.

Stimulus Spending Progress
How quickly are federal agencies spending? Updated weekly.

ProPublica’s Unofficial Guide to
Confused by the government's official stimulus data Web site? Our guide will tell you how to navigate it.

How to Background Check Stimulus Companies
A guide of tips and resources on researching the background of companies getting stimulus funds.

Photo by flickr user sparkieblues


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