With federal agencies poised to dispense the results of America's largest spending bill ever, President Obama promises that the process of determining what gets funding and what doesn't will be the most transparent in U.S. history. The White House has already established the Recovery.gov Web site, and on Feb. 18 the Office of Management and Budget issued agency rules for reporting its administration of the funding.
According to Recovery.gov, the site will allow users to "figure out where the money from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act is going. The money is being distributed by federal agencies, and soon you'll be able to see where it's going-to which states, to which congressional districts, even to which federal contractors."
To make that happen, OMB Director Peter Orszag issued a 60-page memo directing federal agencies (PDF) to accurately track, monitor and report on all taxpayer funds to be used in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. In the memo, Orszag sets an aggressive timetable for agencies.
By March 3, for instance, all agencies involved in the stimulus program must begin submitting weekly reports that include a breakdown of stimulus funding and a summary of major actions taken. By May 20, all agencies must begin reporting their competitive grants and contracts. By July 15, recipients of the funding must begin reporting their use of the funds.
"The administration is committed to investing Recovery Act dollars with an unprecedented level of transparency and accountability so Americans know where their tax dollars are going and how they are being spent," Orszag said in the memo. "To deliver a Web site that allows citizens to hold the government accountable for every dollar spent, the law and guidance require federal agencies to implement mechanisms to accurately track, monitor and report on taxpayer funds."
Among the multitude of rules issued Feb. 18, Orszag said all agencies involved in stimulus funding must put a link on their agency Web sites to the Recovery.gov site. All stimulus-related funding must be clearly labeled as such.
According to the OMB, each contract or order of more than $500,000 will require agencies to provide a description of the required products and services to be posted on Recovery.gov.