$6.4 Billion Stimulus Goes to Phantom Districts

Posted on November 17, 2009
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Just how big is the stimulus package? Well for one, it has doubled the size of the House of Representatives, according to recovery.gov, which says that funds were distributed to 440 congressional districts that do not exist.

According to data retrieved from recovery.gov, nearly $6.4 billion was used to “create or save” just under 30,000 jobs in these phantom congressional districts–almost $225,000 per job. The web site operates on an $84 million budget and is tasked with monitoring the distribution of the $787 billion stimulus package passed by Congress–which, for the record, counts 435 members–in early 2009.

The site’s monitors, however, are not too savvy about America’s political or geographic landscape. More than $2 million was given to the 99th District of North Dakota, a state which has only one congressional district. In order to qualify for 99 districts, North Dakota would have to have a population of about 60 million people, almost 24 million more people than California.

The stimulus revived 8 recently retired congressional districts. Pennsylvania’s 21st District has received just under $2 million in funds. Mississippi’s 5th District and Oklahoma’s 6th received $1 million from the legislation, respectively. All three were eliminated by the 2000 census.

Many other recipients carried the banner for congressional districts that have been defunct for decades. South Carolina’s 7th took the cake, garnering more than $27 million in stimulus funds, despite being eliminated in 1930. And Virginia’s 12th District may have been written off at the start of the Civil War, but it must carry some sentimental value in Old Dominion–it received more than $2 million, according to recovery.gov.

The stimulus helped to create 35 congressional districts in Washington D.C. and the four American territories, all of which have no congressional districts. These areas received $5 of the $6.4 billion distributed to the non-existent districts.

New Mexico Watchdog broke the story on Monday morning after finding that $26 million in stimulus money had been distributed to 13 congressional districts–ten more than the state actually has. Similar reports soon followed from New Hampshire, Kansas, Ohio, Minnesota and West Virginia.

A reporter from the Montana Policy Institue confronted the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board, which oversees the site, about these non-existent congressional districts on Monday afternoon. Ed Pound, Director of Communications for the board, said that the faulty information came from recipients of stimulus funds.

“People make errors, and we’ve found people are making errors in these reports,” Pound said…

Recipients file their reports on a password-protected site. That information is then relayed to officials who oversee the recovery.gov website to post, Pound said. Unless an egregious error is noted, Pound said they post the information exactly as it is received.

“Our job is data integrity, not data quality,” he said.

The integrity of the data, however, has also come under scrutiny several times in the past month. Numerous media studies have revealed a reporting system riddled with errors and results that are “impossible” to calculate, such as the number of jobs “saved” by the bill.

Vice President Joe Biden admitted that the administration’s statistics were flawed after an Associated Press study revealed several instances of exaggerated and outright false job creation. The vice president acknowledged that “further updates and corrections are going to be needed.”

The administration may have begun to do just that. 60,000 jobs were cut from original stimulus estimates on Monday, citing faulty data.

Pound says that the board plans on correcting the site’s other reporting errors during the next data collection cycle, which is set for January.

The full data from the Franklin Center study can be found below or by clicking here. All information was pulled directly from recovery.gov.


Recovery’s Phantom Districts

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38 Comments For This Post So Far

  1. taney71
    11:47 am on November 17th, 2009

    The 440 number is including US controlled territories. The administration should make that clear but these aren’t “phantom districts” as you say. The stimulus bill was spent on all parts of the US including its territories.

  2. Hunter Comstock
    11:50 pm on November 18th, 2009

    Congressman Joe Wilson had it right. Not only does the president lie, apparently everyone that is associated with him lies as well. This administration will go down as the most destructive and corrupt in the history of this nation.

  3. GJ
    4:11 pm on November 20th, 2009

    taney71 < >

    You are an idiot, and probably a flaming liberal…all you need to do is READ, assuming of course, you can….read the last line of the first paragraph…”440 congressional districts that do not exist” that is on top of the 435 districts that actually do exist…wait, was Obama your math teacher? Or was it Joe Biden?

    Just how big is the stimulus package? Well for one, it has doubled the size of the House of Representatives, according to recovery.gov, which says that funds were distributed to 440 congressional districts that do not exist.

  4. NotSPAM
    12:21 pm on November 25th, 2009

    Shouldn’t it be noted that the reports on the site are just compilations of the reports that recipients are required to file? That would mean that the individual recipients are reporting false data, and not the Federal government.

    “All data in the Recipient Reported Data section, as well as the data on the blue maps, comes directly from recipients’ reports submitted to FederalReporting.gov–the government website created to collect all the recipient data. Recovery.gov has not changed or corrected the reported data. “

  5. Låna pengar snabbt
    4:02 am on November 27th, 2009

    You got a really useful blog. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Peace, Carrie Kaplan @ Låna pengar

  6. KimberleyMn30
    1:22 am on February 22nd, 2010

    Different spheres of people’s life take lots of time and efforts, hence why should you expend life time for persuasive term paper creating? That’s easier to utilize some experienced sociology essay service to purchase the term paper titles at, I think so.

  7. Alfonso Vetere
    11:37 pm on October 11th, 2010

    You have a good point but I think Obama will fail bigtime in the coming elections.

Trackbacks

  1. Follow-Up: More Recovery Controversy in W.Va.

    [...] Bill McMorris with Watchdog.org compiled a list of the phantom districts which shows the phenomenon can be found in all 50 states, Washington D.C., and four U.S. [...]

  2. A New Twist to Phantom Districts

    [...] new twist to recovery.gov’s invented congressional districts. Kathy Hoekstra at the Mackinac Center tells the tale of Michigan’s [...]

  3. Puerto Rico

    [...] Watchdog study revealed 440 non-existent congressional districts within the stimulus tracking web site, recovery.org. The full report can be found here and [...]

  4. $6.4 Billion in Fed Stimulus Goes to 440 Non-Existent Congressional Districts

    [...] Bill McMorris at Watchdog.org combined all the state Watchdog reporting on federal stimulus money going to phantom Congressional districts, and then dug through the rest of the data reported at recovery.gov, the $84 million website established by the Obama Administration to “track every last penny,” as our President put it, of the $787 billion stimulus. [...]

  5. American Samoa

    [...] Watchdog study revealed 440 non-existent congressional districts within the stimulus tracking web site, recovery.org. The full report can be found here and [...]

  6. Your Guide to the Stimulus District by (Phantom District)

    [...] districts that did not exist. Those reporting errors, however, was not limited to New Mexico. A Watchdog study has found the stimulus has given $6.4 billion to 440 non-existent districts in all 50 states, D.C. [...]

  7. Northern Mariana Islands

    [...] Watchdog study revealed 440 non-existent congressional districts within the stimulus tracking web site, recovery.org. The full report can be found here and [...]

  8. Washington D.C.

    [...] Watchdog study revealed 440 non-existent congressional districts within the stimulus tracking web site, recovery.org. The full report can be found here and [...]

  9. WatchBlog: Catch Adams on WCHS Radio 58 Today

    [...] $6.4 Billion Stimulus Goes to Phantom Districts [...]

  10. Administration Responds to Web Errors that “Doubled Congress”

    [...] the Board overseeing the $84 million Recovery.gov project admits it never checked to see that the data going into the database was accurate. Ed Pound is Director of Communications [...]

  11. New Jersey

    [...] Watchdog study revealed 440 non-existent congressional districts within the stimulus tracking web site, recovery.org. The full report can be found here and [...]

  12. New York

    [...] Watchdog study revealed 440 non-existent congressional districts within the stimulus tracking web site, recovery.org. The full report can be found here and [...]

  13. North Carolina

    [...] Watchdog study revealed 440 non-existent congressional districts within the stimulus tracking web site, recovery.org. The full report can be found here and [...]

  14. North Dakota

    [...] Watchdog study revealed 440 non-existent congressional districts within the stimulus tracking web site, recovery.org. The full report can be found here and [...]

  15. Rhode Island

    [...] Watchdog study revealed 440 non-existent congressional districts within the stimulus tracking web site, recovery.org. The full report can be found here and [...]

  16. South Dakota

    [...] Watchdog study revealed 440 non-existent congressional districts within the stimulus tracking web site, recovery.org. The full report can be found here and [...]

  17. South Carolina

    [...] Watchdog study revealed 440 non-existent congressional districts within the stimulus tracking web site, recovery.org. The full report can be found here and [...]

  18. WV Watchdog Discusses Phantom Districts

    [...] Virginia Watchdog Managing Editor Steven Allen Adams discuss the phantom Congressional districts story with Rick Johnson and Michael Agnello on WCHS Radio 58 Nov. 17, [...]

  19. Hot Air » Blog Archive » Recovery chief: Yeah, I can’t back up those numbers

    [...] coming from Recovery.gov and found them laughably phony.  The pièce de resistance came when Watchdog.org noticed that the government-run accountability website appeared not to know that the US has only [...]

  20. Cascade Policy Institute - Oregon Public Policy » Oregon Has a 60th Congressional District!

    [...] is not alone with these phantom districts. Bill McMorris of Watchdog.org reports that a total of $6.4 billion has gone to 440 phantom districts across the [...]

  21. Recovery.gov: Phantom Districts are No More

    [...] discovery of these discrepancies, is now looking to retrace what actual districts received the $6.4 billion distributed to the [...]

  22. Phantom Districts Disappear, Spending to Unassigned District

    [...] Watchdog originally discovered the phantom districts which Recovery.gov showed as recipients of $6.4 billion in stimulus payments. National media and newspapers from coast to coast have carried the [...]

  23. Pajamas Media » Big, Bigger, Biggest: Three Examples of Government-Induced Failure

    [...] at least those projects were carried out in real places. Now we have learned from Watchdog.org that, “according to data retrieved from Recovery.gov, nearly $6.4 billion was used to ‘create [...]

  24. Federal Stimulus Funds Reportedly Spent In Nonexistent Zip Codes

    [...] districts that don’t exist. Those millions were credited with creating 61.5 jobs. Spadework by our Watchdog counterparts in other states showed a total of $6.4 billion going to 440 [...]

  25. Stimulus Funds Phantom Zip Codes

    [...] Congressional districts that don’t exist. Those millions were credited with creating 61.5 jobs. Spadework by our Watchdog counterparts in other states showed a total of $6.4 billion reported as being [...]

  26. Stimulus Funds Reportedly Went to Nonexistent Zip Code Areas

    [...] Congressional districts that do not exist. Those millions were credited with creating 61.5 jobs. Spadework by our Watchdog counterparts in other states showed a total of $6.4 billion reported as being [...]

  27. New Mexico Watchdog breaks story on ‘phantom zip codes’ getting stimulus funds

    [...] Congressional districts that do not exist. Those millions were credited with creating 61.5 jobs. Spadework by our Watchdog counterparts in other states showed a total of $6.4 billion reported as being [...]

  28. Phantom ZIPs Zap Stimulus Funds

    [...] ZIP Code filing errors echo the phantom congressional district scandal that tore through Capitol Hill in November. Recovery.gov more than doubled the size of [...]

  29. The American Spectator : AmSpecBlog : Phantom Stimulus Beneficiaries

    [...] worked with them on the Massachusetts election last week), about the Recovery Act funds that went to phantom Congressional districts. Then came their reports about money going to non-existent zip [...]

  30. Study: Americans Call for Transparency

    [...] Only 15 percent say they are very or extremely satisfied with the level of financial transparency with the government. But not all news is bad news—that is more than double last year’s satisfaction rate. The Obama administration and congress have pledged to open up government documents regarding spending to the public via the web, including http://www.recovery.gov (Read about it here). [...]

  31. WatchBlog: New Mexico Watchdog Jim Scarantino Retires

    [...] greatest story was the discovery of the phantom congressional districts. Due to faulty reporting by stimulus recipients and zero oversight by the Recovery Accountability [...]

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