The federal government’s cash drawer is in such disarray that a .gov website designed to organize it can’t even keep track of where all the money went. Federal website USASpending.gov, launched in 2007, was tasked with foot-printing the government’s green and providing behind-the-numbers transparency of federal big budget spending. Sort of a piggy-bank redundancy counter.
The webpage was most definitely transparent – the site’s duel woes in both accounting and accountability are now clear and obvious to all.
USA Today on Aug. 5 reported that the site cannot reconcile a $619 billion shortfall from over 300 federal programs – including the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of the Interior, even the White House itself. HHS made up the primary deficit – over $540 billion – because the department admitted it “misreported” its numbers.
“And the data that does exist is wildly inaccurate, according to the Government Accountability Office, which looked at 2012 spending data. Only 2% to 7% of spending data on USASpending.gov is ‘fully consistent with agencies' records,’ according to the report,” writes USA Today.
The website, on its About page, tells us that the “Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act of 2006 requires that the Office of Management and Budget establish a single searchable website, accessible to the public at no cost.”
Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., the chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee, spoke of the need to understand the simple nuts and bolts of accounting – like where the money goes.
“We live in a world in which information drives decisions,” Carper said. “And, given the budget constraints that our government faces, we need reliable information on how and where our money is being spent.”
According to NewsMax, which quoted the Washington Times, the website “misreported the award recipient in about one in 20 cases, the dollar amount in about 7 percent of cases and the purpose of the money in about 33 percent of cases.”
“The administration set a goal of 100 percent accuracy by the end of 2011,” commented Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla. “Three years later the federal government cannot even break a 10 percent accuracy rate. This complete failure in spending transparency hurts our ability to assess the pros and cons of how Washington spends tax dollars.”
The responsibility to maintain the website will now be switched to the Department of the Treasury.