Federal stimulus spokesman defends Web site

AP News
Posted: Nov 06, 2009 11:03 AM

A spokesman for the federal economic stimulus program is defending the program's Web site against criticism from a top Wyoming official, who said she sees problems with the site that might misinform the public.

Ed Pound, spokesman for the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board in Washington, spoke up this week in response to remarks from Lynne Boomgaarden, who heads Wyoming's Recovery and Reinvestment Team.

Boomgaarden told members of Wyoming's Joint Appropriations Committee on Monday that the Recovery.gov federal Web site that provides information to the public about stimulus spending was "a mess."

Pound responded this week that he sees Boomgaarden's comments as outrageous. He said any errors on the site about the funding of Wyoming projects are the result of bad information submitted by the state government and grant recipients in the state.

Boomgaarden said the federal stimulus program expended more than $51 million in Wyoming through September and has awarded more than $415 million to the state so far.

She told lawmakers on Monday that the state's latest estimate is that state and local stimulus spending has created or retained the equivalent of 466 jobs. However, she said the state has received conflicting information from federal agencies about how to account for jobs saved and created under the program.

Boomgaarden is also director of the Office of State Lands and Investments. She said one example of problems with the federal Web site is that it improperly stated that $39 million her office received for water projects had gone through the state Revenue Department. She said the site didn't account for the money at all under its list of top infrastructure grants in Wyoming.

Pound said Boomgaarden's agency submitted information about the water project funding using an identification number that had been issued to the state Revenue Department. As a result, he said, the site credited the money to the Revenue Department.

"The problem, you see, is with the Revenue Department and her agency, at least as it applies to this specific reporting issue," Pound said. "Simply put, we reported on Recovery.gov what we received from the state of Wyoming."

Boomgaarden said Thursday she stands by her criticism of the site. She said her agency had the identification number before the stimulus program started. She said the state will have to work with the federal government to make sure it recognizes that the number is assigned to her office, and not to the Revenue Department.

Boomgaarden said the water funding issue was one of several problems with Wyoming information on the federal site.

"We've just had a short time now to start digging into those," Boomgaarden said. "Some of the problems that have been noted to date are that Wyoming is shown as having multiple congressional districts, and we all know that Wyoming has just one congressional district."

Pound said information on the Web site only reflects that grant recipients in Wyoming put down that they operate in various congressional districts.

"This is information coming from the recipients in Wyoming," Pound said. "So if she's got a beef, it's with the recipients within Wyoming."