Following a new Government Accountability Office report, lawmakers from both parties are criticizing Obama administration claims that the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act has created or saved about 640,000 jobs. GAO’s study, released on Nov. 19, highlights inaccuracies in data submitted to federal agencies by recipients of ARRA funds.
ARRA requires nonfederal recipients of stimulus aid to submit information about projects funded by the stimulus law, including the number of jobs created or preserved. GAO’s report cites examples of inaccurate data from funding recipients that call into question the accuracy of the administration’s estimates. A total of 3,978 reports showed no dollar amounts received but more than 50,000 jobs created or saved. Another 9,247 reports showed no jobs created but sums near $1 billion.
At a Nov. 19 House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing, the panel’s ranking Republican, Darrell Issa (Calif.), charged, “The fact is, they have no idea how many jobs have been created or saved.” House Appropriations Committee Chairman David Obey (D-Wis.) called the inaccuracies “outrageous” and said the administration should “work night and day to correct the ludicrous mistakes.”
Edward DeSeve, a White House senior adviser, says “possible errors” the administration has found occurred in less than 5% of the data. “While the data may be imprecise, the overall jobs impact is irrefutable,” he says. “We think the numbers are a good representation of what’s going on and support the claims that other economists have made about one million jobs or more having been created.”