Biden: Recovery Web site will be improved
Washington » When President Barack Obama signed the massive stimulus package earlier this year he vowed transparency with how the hundreds of billions of dollars would be spent.
"We expect you, the American people, to hold us accountable for the results," Obama said. "That is why we have created Recovery.gov -- so every American can go online and see how their money is being spent."
So far, though, that Web site shows only broad, general numbers that each state is receiving for certain programs, and state and local Web sites set up to track the funding show even less information.
But Vice President Joe Biden said Wednesday -- 100 days after the new administration took office -- that within a few months much more detailed information will be available for the public to see how their tax dollars are being used.
"We hope, and it is our fervent desire, and our commitment that we will have the most comprehensive Web site that I think you've ever seen in government up and running, so you can look with precision at exactly what's being spent where," Biden said in response to a question from The Salt Lake Tribune .
Utah's own stimulus-tracking Web site includes even less data than the federal government. The state site, recovery.utah.gov, shows graphics of amounts of cash the state has received for education, Medicaid, energy and community development, but nothing further on where funds are being spent.
Lisa Roskelley, spokeswoman for Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr., says the state will post much more information once the federal guidelines are set on how the data should be presented.
"Gov. Huntsman obviously is a huge proponent of transparency, so we will do everything we can to make sure this is transparent," Roskelley said.
Salt Lake City, too, is looking to revamp its stimulus Web site and ensure that the pages get updated constantly as money is divvied up, said to Ben McAdams, senior adviser to Mayor Ralph Becker.
On the federal level, the ranking Republican member of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee has railed against the White House for its advice to federal agencies to follow the cash flow until it's handed off to the states or local governments.
"After that, the money trail runs cold," Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., said at a recent hearing on the stimulus. "Under the administration's guidance so far, there will be zero accountability for any contractors, lobbyists or special interests that get taxpayer money."
Biden, in a conference call with regional reporters, said that he hopes by summertime, they will have a much more detail-filled Web site where users can zero in on a county or a state to see what projects are getting funding and if they are coming along on time.
But, he added, that putting that together requires a "monumental technical" effort and is taking some time.