United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) officials claimed to have spent $9 billion from the 2009 stimulus to save or create 10,600 jobs between 2009 and 2011, but the USDA inspector general points out in a new report that the government doesn’t know if that’s true.
The USDA didn’t develop a way of verifying the jobs data reported by companies that received stimulus money. “Without accurate data about the number of jobs USDA agencies retained or created through the use of Recovery Act Funds, it is difficult to measure how effective the Department was in accomplishing a main Recovery Act objective, which was to create or retain jobs,” the IG says in a report released last week.
The inspector general found that the USDA had inaccurate jobs data for 33 of the 99 projects reviewed. “Some recipients used incorrect payroll hours, reported cumulative job numbers as opposed to the jobs created in that quarter, or reported the same jobs twice for projects that received multiple awards—most often one loan and one grant,” the inspector general found.
Some projects had a more positive effect on jobs than the USDA reported. “For example, when we contacted a recipient who reported zero jobs created or retained, we found that multiple employees performed work on the Recovery Act project,” the IG said. “When we asked the recipients why they did not report more accurate information, they explained that these errors were due to misunderstanding the requirements or human error while entering the data.”