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By Nick Wakeman

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Nick Wakeman

Is Obama justified in turning up heat on contractors?

Some contractors are sure to lament President Barack Obama’s latest memo requiring that agencies increase the pressure on contractors that do not fully comply with reporting requirements under the Recovery Act.

The law states that companies that win contracts funded by the stimulus law are required to report certain information, including the value of the work, jobs created, and status of the project. 

From my look at the Recovery Act reports for the last quarter of 2009, there are a lot of blank fields, particularly the fields asking for the names and salaries of the top five officers of the company. The vast majority of these fields are blank. Of the 20,331 reports in the spreadsheet, only 1,758 include this information.

I think there are legitimate arguments to be made about the value of this information. Does it really matter what the salary is of a chief executive officer at a government contractor?

But the fact of the matter is that reporting that information is a requirement for getting Recovery Act work.

Rule one of keeping negative attention away from your company is to follow the rules, unless you’re withholding the information as some sort of civil disobedience, which I don’t see happening here.

Doing slightly better is the field for total recovery money received. Here 8,171 of the reports have numbers attached, but that is still less than half. I’m sure there are projects where there is a mixture of funding sources so it might be difficult to break the stimulus money out, but can that really be the case with more than half of the reports? I’m also a little perplexed by the company that reported it has received 24 cents in stimulus money.

I’m sure there are nuances to this that I don’t grasp, but we are six months or more into this era of reporting, and the expectation is that these requirements will expand to all contracts.

So the move by the administration to increase the pressure on contractors to report should come as no surprise. The ball is back industry’s court to comply, explain why not or face the consequences.

Posted by Nick Wakeman on Apr 07, 2010 at 9:43 AM

Reader Comments

Thu, Jun 3, 2010 Walt Daniels Denton, TX

Negative, negative comments. Railing against the only administration in decades that has demonstrated fairness and concern for all. Answering the stimulus questions, after getting a piece of it should be a bright spot in any sane person or firm's life. Without Obama in the WH there would probably be Stimulus to complain about. The president is trying his best to restore the economy. jobs, and wise regulations, to pevent the melt down that took the country under during the previous administration. And yet, all we seem to want to do is trash the one president that truly wants to restore the economy and country to its former greteness. Over 90 countries now have afavorable opinion of the U.S., up 200% from 2005 (very telling, I'd say).

Wed, Apr 14, 2010 M Reston, VA

Obama and his whole crew are outsiders to the world that actually delivers meaningful goods and services. Sadly, their naivete about the real world makes them even less capable than their unimpressive predecessor or even their hypothetical "not-so-bright" successor, Palin. Their only advantage is not knowledge, but articulateness and idealism unencumbered by practicality. If only they knew about what they articulated! We need less stupid in the house. But will it run for the office? It should come as no surprise that Obama's crew would vilify the goose that lays the Golden Egg. After all that goose has imperfections and some uncomfortableness to rail against! And who knew it was an integral part of how the real world works?

Mon, Apr 12, 2010

Why is it industry's job to report where the buyer (government) got the money? Is Obama doing to demand they pay it back? Or will he complain that the company made a profit from the deal? This requirement is like asking the drowning man to identify the brand of life ring thrown by the Coast Guard.

Wed, Apr 7, 2010 Michael Lent Washington, DC

Despite inexplicable hopes of some services companies, Recovery Act funds going to contractors is a minor fraction of the total, last I looked. Accordingly, citizens might be more deeply concerned about the data quality and missing numbers in federal, state, and local government agency reporting of jobs-produced from their own spending on government operations. Not a pretty picture. Ask the folks at OMB.

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