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Biden explains stimulus mistakes

By Ed O'Keefe
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Vice President Joseph Biden blamed bad civics lessons for the recent reports of stimulus reporting errors during an appearance Tuesday night on "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart."

Starting at 2:45 in the video above, Biden said: "Every single solitary penny that got sent out there to a state, to a construction company, to a nonprofit, had to be accounted for. And it all got put on Recovery.gov. What happened was, out of 130,000 people reporting in what they did with the money, who they hired, how many jobs, 70 -- 70 did not account.

"Seventy, when they ask, what district were they from -- thank God it's not true -- they said there were 14 Congressional districts in Arizona. Imagine all those Republicans!" Biden joked.

"All kidding aside, what's happened is the jobs actually exist," Biden said later.

Then, as he has done several times before, Biden told the audience to visit Recovery.com for stimulus information.

But the government's stimulus Web site is Recovery.gov. The .com and .org version is a private site operated by Onvia.

Asked why the government had not caught mistakes, Biden said the government is reviewing each report, but that "the initial report comes in cold," meaning it may be difficult to catch errors.

"That Recovery Act, we've been in business seven, eight months," Biden said. "The one thing you haven't seen is that whole thing about the dog who didn't bark. You haven't seen these big wasteful projects."

No, at least not yet, Mr. Vice President, but we've seen some pretty interesting errors.

Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

By Ed O'Keefe  | November 18, 2009; 10:00 AM ET
Categories:  Tracking the Stimulus  
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Next: House panel approves domestic benefits bill

Comments

I do understand some errors. However, for this administration which is constantly referred in the media as 'very smart', how does one come up with a nonexistent congressional district? Is it like the smart guys on Wall Street who either knew the oncoming disaster and kept quiet or created the disaster. If someone in Bush administration had put up information on an imaginary congressional district to justify the creation of imaginary jobs by spending REAL MONEY, he and the administration would have been caricatured as dumb and stupid. And, Biden says that it might be difficult to catch errors?

Posted by: philly3 | November 18, 2009 11:13 AM | Report abuse

maybe Obama can say he inherited the current financial situation, but sorry Joe, you have been a Senator for a long time which makes you part of the problem.

Posted by: djrhood | November 18, 2009 11:16 AM | Report abuse

"I do understand some errors. However, for this administration which is constantly referred in the media as 'very smart', how does one come up with a nonexistent congressional district?"

A lot of these errors are most likely database coding and typos. For example, several of the territories listed district 99. Of courset there is no district 99 in the Virgin Islands--it's an at-large district (as are Puerto Rico, American Samoa, Guam, N. Mariana Islands, Washington, DC, and smaller populations states--Delaware, Montana, N. Dakotak, S. Dakota, R.I., Vermont and Wyoming). I once worked for a congressional directory publishing company and kept a database of all congressional districts. For my at-large districts--I coded them 99. But I never published anything with district 99. Also, there were others with district 86 and other ridiculously high numbers. The highest number of districts is in California--52. Ao anything higher than 52 would be an error.

This was really a non-story other than the government desperately needs some quality assurance with regard to what it is publishing online (the same can be said for every major news outlet; the number of typos on ABCnews.com is obnoxious). Proofreading is so very under-rated, and it can come back to bite you. Hard.

But unfortunately, reporters are thinking they got some big scoop--and they made a big story out of this without actually asking, "Well, how could this have happened?" Human error and a lack of proofreading is how this happened. I would have caught these mistakes immediately. At one time I knew how many districts were in each state--and whether that district was Republican or Democrat. Yes, I was very narrowly focused in my job 15 years ago...but Recovery.gov should have someone like that proofreading its content BEFORE it goes live.

Posted by: pepperjade | November 18, 2009 12:18 PM | Report abuse

Much of this information was self-reported. You can blame it on those who didn't accurately fill out the forms used to track these numbers.

Instead of your knee-jerk reactions to blame government, maybe you should read into the story more. No, government isn't perfect. No institution is. But without government action in this economy, you'd be in even worse shape.

Posted by: dflynn221 | November 18, 2009 12:25 PM | Report abuse

The designation of a particular Congressional district is trivial. What is not trivial is the overstatement of jobs created and saved, an overstatement that according to some reporting grantees was done in accordance with instructions from the Government's hotline.

"Jobs saved" was always an absurd metric, because there was no remotely rigorous way of quantifying it. It's no surprise, then, that the Administration has allowed that metric to be jiggered to put the so-called stimulus program in the best possible light.

What's remarkable is that even with that fundamentally flawed metric, applied in a dishonest way, the figures for jobs created and saved by the stimulus are still so anemic. Vice President Biden chose an appropriate forum for his comments, because the whole stimulus effort is comical.

Posted by: Rob_ | November 18, 2009 12:51 PM | Report abuse

Vice President "non exportable jobs".

America Leader In Exports

The business plan of American companies to export American jobs overseas began in 2002 and over 2 millions jobs have now been exported.

No other country in the world comes close to our lead in this area of exporting.

With every job in America that involves sitting in an office and using a computer and a telephone as a candidate for export overseas, America will remain a leader for many years in this new area of exporting.

Nothing will stop this new American leadership and dominance in the global economy.

........................................................................................
IBM to Cut 5,000 Jobs; D.C. Area Largely Not Affected
By Kim Hart
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, March 27, 2009
Officials began notifying employees on Wednesday and throughout yesterday about the layoffs. Technology services giant is in the process of shifting a large number of jobs to lower-cost regions, such as India.

Pring said IBM has been gradually moving jobs out of the United States to trim costs...

Posted by: bsallamack | November 18, 2009 1:48 PM | Report abuse

The Bush Administration *was* caricatured as dumb and stupid, and rightfully so. May I add corrupt and arrogant.

Posted by: fbutler1 | November 18, 2009 2:11 PM | Report abuse

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