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Government extends stimulus reporting deadline - sort of

By Ed O'Keefe

Recipients of economic stimulus funding have an extra week to submit quarterly reports to the government -- but reports filed after Friday may be considered late, officials announced Friday.

Although the second round of quarterly reports is due Friday, the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board said recipients will be able to file until midnight pacific time on Jan. 22.

Stimulus recipients must submit quarterly spending and job creation data to The Recovery Board then posts the data on its Web site, Errors in the first round of reports fueled questions about the spending.

“Several significant changes have been made to the reporting process that
appear to have impacted recipients’ ability to submit timely reports," Recovery Board Chairman Earl Devaney said in a statement, citing revised guidance from the Office of Management and Budget on how to account for job creation, new safeguards to ensure correct Zip code and Congressional district information and Monday's Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.

OMB quietly revised its guidance on job creation last month, ordering recipients to count anyone working on a stimulus-funded project, even if that person's job was never at risk. The Board also announced plans to correct recipient data with incorrect Zip codes and Congressional districts.

Despite the extension, any reports submitted after Friday may still be considered late. The Board has no choice but to count them as late because it lacks the power to change the rules, an official said.

Devaney has asked Congress to punish recipients or withhold their funding if did not submit reports or failed to submit them on time.

The Obama administration has offered little apology for the confusion stemming from the stimulus data, calling last fall's first wave of reporting, "an honest effort on behalf of recipients." Even Vice President Biden joked about the mistakes and blamed bad civics lessons for confusion about congressional districts.

Still, any mistakes found in the second wave of reports will likely ignite criticism yet again.

By Ed O'Keefe  | January 15, 2010; 4:59 PM ET
Categories:  Tracking the Stimulus  
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