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Eye Opener: Different Recovery Web Sites

By Ed O'Keefe

Eye Opener

Updated 12:47 p.m. ET

Happy Wednesday! Earlier this week the White House launched WhiteHouse.gov/recovery earlier this week, not to be confused with Recovery.gov, Recovery.org, StimulusWatch.org or any other stimulus-tracking site.

The big difference between the White House page and the one run by the Recovery Accountability and Transparency (RAT) Board? In a word, politics.

Though Recovery.gov will compile the raw data related to stimulus spending, the White House site will apply a little political spin, including an introductory video from Vice President Joseph Biden and maps plotting out the location of every stimulus-funded project.

"Some of the political stories the White House is interested in, we are not going to be having on our site, which is for transparency and accountability, so it's probably more appropriate to be on a White House site," RAT Chairman Earl Devaney said yesterday in an interview with Federal News Radio.

Devaney has repeatedly said that his site will remain free of political spin and hopes that local, state and federal agencies can all use the same data.

"We need to all be playing off the same sheet of music. If I'm going to be held accountable for this Web site, and there's a graph in there that talks about jobs created or saved, it's going to be as accurate as I can get it," he said in March.

Make no mistake: Devaney is sticking to his guns, vowing to provide the most honest assessment of the stimulus, even if it means bad news for Team Obama. No one will say it publicly, but the White House site is designed to spin things in a positive light as critics assail the recovery efforts. Keep an Eye on both sites in the coming months to see if their stories differ.

UPDATE: Asked about Recovery.gov during his confirmation hearing today, Jeffrey Zients agreed with Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) that the government stimulus-tracking Web site lags behind private sector efforts, but noted it remains a high priority of the Obama administration.

“I think we will see very good things in October," he said, acknowledging Devaney's promised relaunch date. Zients, nominated by President Obama to serve as a deputy OMB director and the first chief performance officer, said part of the delay is due to the government's outdated IT systems.

Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

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By Ed O'Keefe  | June 10, 2009; 6:05 AM ET
Categories:  Eye Opener, Oversight, Tracking the Stimulus  
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Comments

Re your comment that Obama has appointed more top 'donators' to important diplomatic posts than Bill Clinton.

These particular political appointees are chosen not only because of their friendships, donations, and support to the party of the President, but in many cases they are (and must be) wealthy individuals. It is because of the expenses that go with the job, particularly diplomatic receptions, dinners and other entertaining, plus additional household expenses of the Ambassador's residence. You may recall General Gavin was appointed as our Ambassador to France back in the late 60's, but he found it necesssary to resign because he did not have the personal funds to support his appointment to France.

True, Ambassadors do receive a certain amount of money each year for representational type entertaining and household expenses, but it is not enough to carry them throughout the year. Hence in years gone by we have had people like John Hay Whitney, Eugenie Anderson David Bruce, Walter Annenberg, Pamala Harriman, Robert Tuttle, Ronald Spogli, Ellsworth Bunker and Thomas Scheiffer appointed to the "expensive postings" around the world. Some are former Senators, like Mike Mansfield, Howard Baker, and Walter Mondale

When an Ambassador is a 'political appointee,' his Deputy Chief of Mission will usually (almost always) be a senior and seasoned Foreign Service Officer.

No President could carry out foreign policy, without the grand sacrifices many prominent political appointees take on. They do their public services to the United States splendidly.

Posted by: rbsher | June 10, 2009 11:47 AM | Report abuse

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