USDA’s Stimulus Jobs Data Plagued by Inaccuracies

Lachlan Markay /

Federal requirements for monitoring jobs data associated with President Obama’s stimulus package are insufficient to ensure that that the information is accurate, according to a review of that data compiled by the Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The IG released a report this week documenting widespread inaccuracies in USDA agencies’ reporting jobs “saved or created” by more than $28 billion in stimulus expenditures. One third of the awards examined in the report inaccurately reported that data.

The stimulus required that all recipients of federal money file quarterly reports with the awarding agencies detailing how the money was spent and the number of jobs created or “retained.”

According to the IG report, “recipients did not always report correct information and USDA agencies did not adequately analyze the number of jobs that award recipients were reporting.”

Though “agencies are expected to closely monitor this information and develop procedures to ensure this number is correct,” according to the IG, USDA agencies actually complied with all minimum reporting guidelines set by the White House Office of Management and Budget and USDA’s chief financial officer.

The IG agreed that those guidelines do not ensure the accuracy of jobs data. “Though we did find that they met the minimum requirements,” the report states, “those requirements were not adequate to identify the errors found in the number of jobs reported.”

The report examined 4,690 awards, whose recipients had reported about 10,600 jobs “created or retained.” It found a host of errors:

The IG report recommends strengthening tools to ensure the accuracy of USDA’s stimulus jobs data. The Department acknowledged its shortcomings, and will work to remedy reporting shortfalls.

But the report also raises concerns about the accuracy of stimulus jobs data reported to date. The inability to properly assess the measure’s chief objective – increasing employment – could undermine observers’ ability to gauge its effectiveness.

Read the full report here:

USDA IG report on stimulus jobs reporting