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The Obama administration has promoted its Web site Recovery.gov as a bold new step in government transparency and a convenient way for voters to see that the economic stimulus program is working. Some Republicans say the site is filled with unreliable propaganda.
Florida Republican Rep. Jeff Miller ridiculed the site in a newsletter Nov. 19, writing about how he looked on Recovery.gov and found jobs created in Florida's 34th, 53rd, 86th, and "00th" districts.
"The problem is, these congressional districts do not exist," Miller wrote. "Florida only has TWENTY-FIVE congressional districts.
"We know that the Administration is pulling a 'jobs created or saved' number out of thin air despite the fact that the unemployment rate remains high," Miller wrote. "The people of Florida know. We know that although Democrats represent only 10 of Florida’s 25 districts, their districts received 60% of the stimulus funds. These numbers reek of partisanship and potential corruption."
Miller was right that Recovery.gov did have incorrect information on it. Officials blamed it on errors entering the data and have since replaced the erroneous districts with the notation "unassigned congressional district." ABC News broke the story on Nov. 16 and the corrections were made about two days later. The error caught our attention here at PolitiFact, and we archived the Florida page that confirms Miller's observations on bad district data.
We also looked into whether Democratic districts received more money than Republican districts , and rated that statement Barely True.
Here, we're verifying Miller's statement that Recovery.gov listed congressional districts that do not exist. That was indeed the case until news reports brought attention to the wrong data. Officials removed the data the evening before Miller posted his newsletter, so that now the jobs and money are attributed to "unassigned congressional district." So we rate Miller's statement Mostly True.
ABC News, Exclusive: Jobs 'Saved or Created' in Congressional Districts That Don't Exist , Nov. 16, 2009
Recovery.gov, Florida summary , accessed Nov. 23, 2009
Jeff Miller, Miller Newsletter on Stimulus , November 19, 2009
Recovery.gov, Florida Education Department
U.S. Government Accountability Office, via the Washington Post, Recipient Reported Jobs Data Provide Some Insight into Use of Recovery Act Funding, but Data Quality and Reporting Issues Need Attention , November 2009
ProPublica, Are the Criticisms of the Gov’s Stimulus Site Legit? , Nov. 19, 2009
ProPublica, ProPublica’s Unofficial Guide to Recovery.gov , Oct. 30, 2009
Washington Post, Auditors raise doubts about stimulus numbers, but expect data will improve , Nov. 19, 2009
Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board, Recovery Board Corrects Congressional District Errors Identified by OMB , Nov. 18, 2009
The White House Web site, Reality Check: The Very Real Jobs the Recovery Act is Supporting , Nov. 19, 2009
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