The 64th Congressional District And Other Recovery Failures

It is lovely this time of year, but the 64th of Connecticut only exists in our heads -- and a government website.

Congratulations, people of the 42nd congressional district of Connecticut!  The much-touted Recovery Act is bringing 25 new jobs there!

And 9th district, how's that $18.3 million working out for ya?

What's that?  Oh, right.  There is no 42nd or 9th district.  No 6th (anymore), 64th, 20th, or 86th, either.

There's been a terrible collision at the three-way intersection of government spending, newfangled technology and the need for transparency.

Here on, the site "providing easy access" to track spending dollars, Connecticut has grown to 13 congressional districts and more than $23 million has gone to those new towns and cities.

Of course, these are mistakes -- but a series of big ones.

The White House stressed the big picture with a blog post of its own.  G. Edward DeSeve, Special Advisor to the President, explains that the people receiving the money had to file reports quickly.  A total of more than 130,000 reports came in.

However, those were all self-submitted, so groups receiving funds could have just entered the data incorrectly.  The White House calls them "frustrating" and even "silly", but they say you can still drill into the data and learn where the money went.

This, the argument goes, shouldn't detract from the actual number of jobs created or saved (which could be 7,551) or the amount of money that has actually streamed into the state (maybe $1,704,413,930). 

Governor M. Jodi Rell's office said the state correctly reported its data, but in one case they learned about, jobs from a California district were attributed to Connecticut. 

"From the very onset of the stimulus legislation, the State of Connecticut has placed a premium on transparency, accountability and accuracy," said Donna Tommelleo, spokeswoman for Rell.  She added that the state has "factually accounted for every dollar spent and justified every job created."

The White House’s ultimate point: "...transparency is going to be messy - but it is better than the alternative."

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