Skip to comments.Recovery.gov and the Politicization of the General Services Administration
Posted on 01/25/2009 9:20:17 AM PST by TFine80
On Friday, many people noticed that the federal government established a website entitled Recovery.gov. It includes a graphic of "Recovery.gov" in the normal Obama campaign-style typeset, and it contains the following message.
"Recovery.gov: Check back after the passage of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to see how and where your tax dollars are spent. An oversight board will routinely update this site as part of an unprecedented effort to root out waste, inefficiency, and unnecessary spending in our government."
Aside from the creepy potential for this website, there seem to be several immediate legal concerns.
1. Why should the General Services Administration write a statement that assumes any piece of legislation will necessarily pass and implement any sort of oversight board at all? This is not the political fiefdom of President Obama. No bill has been passed and no money has been allocated for this oversight board. Why are any career employees of the federal government fiddling around with domains and websites for a future program?
2. Doesn't this violate the existing rules about domain choice in .gov? In the October 21, 2008 letter that initially rejected change.gov before the Obama people applied more pressure, Peter Altermanm, Deputy Associate Administrator of Technology Strategy at the GSA, stated:
"The CFR citation above [41 CFR 102-173.90] addresses special restrictions on the use of registration of canonical, or category, names in the Internet gov domain space. The regulations state that canonical name requests must provide total access coverage for the areas conveyed by the name. Thus, the URL "recreation.gov" would not be approved for the State of Maryland, but the URL "recreationMD.gov" would be approved if it provided statewide coverage. The logic of the name adds value to the dot gov domain. GSA reserves the right to deny use of the canonical names that do not provide appropriate coverage and to arbitrate these issues. Some examples from previous registrations that were also deemed too general are: Hydrogen.gov, Relocate.gov, Women.gov, Water.gov, Contracts.gov, Manager.gov and Innovation.gov."
Recovery is a normative term that has many meanings and has nothing to do with government oversight. It is a political characterization of the function of the to-be-passed bill. Will we always be in recovery mode? Why is a so-called spending oversight website necessarily tied to the generic word "recovery?"
3. Who are "Doug Jackson and Laura Clark?"
The website page holder has the HTML below. Are these low-level functionaries in GSA willing to play along with the Obama White House and their web team? Why are they attaching their names to the site? Do they have ambition with the Obama communications people? Were other GSA people more nervous about establishing this site in violation of normal GSA rules?
<!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-transitional.dtd"> <html xmlns="http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml"> <head> Page created by Doug Jackson and Laura Clark GSA ---> <meta http-equiv="Content-Type" content="text/html; charset=iso-8859-1" /> <title>Recovery.Gov </head>
<center> <p><br /> <p><br />
<img src="recovery.jpg" alt="Recovery.gov: Check back after the passage of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to see how and where your tax dollars are spent. An oversight board will routinely update this site as part of an unprecedented effort to root out waste, inefficiency, and unnecessary spending in our government." title="Recovery.gov: Check back after the passage of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to see how and where your tax dollars are spent. An oversight board will routinely update this site as part of an unprecedented effort to root out waste, inefficiency, and unnecessary spending in our government.">
<br> <h3><a href="http://WhiteHouse.gov">http://WhiteHouse.gov <p> <h3><a href="http://USA.gov">http://USA.gov </center> --->
4. Is a FOIA request necessary for recovery.gov, as it was for change.gov? See this post from Michelle Malkin about the rule violations committed when change.gov was established: http://michellemalkin.com/2008/12/20/document-drop-the-story-behind-changegov/
Do they mean waste like a $170 million inaugural celebration?
Time for the conservative counter part of the ACLU to start suing everything Obama’s government trys to implement as unconstitutional.
Any background on the web site creators? I bet they actively campaigned for Obama. Somewhere. Somehow.
I’m looking into this, and I would appreciate Freepers’ help.
Given that they enthusiastically plastered their names on the site, I sense there is something going on here.
The website Recovery.gov will soon be transformed into a database for information on new spending originating from the $825 billion economic stimulus package. This part of Congresss effort to bring a historic level of transparency, oversight and accountability to the stimulus so that taxpayer dollars are spent wisely and Americans can see results for their investment, as stated in the draft summary. Below is the mandate to build the site contained in the Houses American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009:
SEC. 1226. RECOVERY.GOV.
(a) REQUIREMENT TO ESTABLISH WEBSITE. The Board shall establish and maintain a website on the Internet to be named Recovery.gov, to foster greater accountability and transparency in the use of funds made avail1able in this Act.
(b) PURPOSE.Recovery.gov shall be a portal or gateway to key information related to this Act and provide a window to other Government websites with related information.
(c) MATTERS COVERED.In establishing the website Recovery.gov, the Board shall ensure the following:
(1) The website shall provide materials explaining what this Act means for citizens. The materials shall be easy to understand and regularly updated.
(2) The website shall provide accountability information, including a database of findings from audits, inspectors general, and the Government Accountability Office.
(3) The website shall provide data on relevant economic, financial, grant, and contract information in user-friendly visual presentations to enhance public awareness of the use funds made available in this Act.
(4) The website shall provide detailed data on contracts awarded by the Government for purposes of carrying out this Act, including information about the competitiveness of the contracting process, noti1fication of solicitations for contracts to be awarded, and information about the process that was used for the award of contracts.
(5) The website shall include printable reports on funds made available in this Act obligated by month to each State and congressional district.
(6) The website shall provide a means for the public to give feedback on the performance of contracts awarded for purposes of carrying out this Act.
(7) The website shall be enhanced and updated as necessary to carry out the purposes of this subtitle.
And here are some more specifics from the bill text on exactly what information is going to have to be posted:
(1) INFRASTRUCTURE INVESTMENT FUNDING.
With respect to funds made available under this Act for infrastructure investments to Federal, State, or local government agencies, the following requirements apply:
(A) Each such agency shall notify the public of funds obligated to particular infrastructure investments by posting the notification on the website Recovery.gov.
(B) The notification required by subparagraph (A) shall include the following:
(i) A description of the infrastructure investment funded.
(ii) The purpose of the infrastructure investment.
(iii) The total cost of the infrastructure investment.
(iv) The rationale of the agency for funding the infrastructure investment with funds made available under this Act.
(v) The name of the person to contact at the agency if there are concerns with the infrastructure investment and, with respect to Federal agencies, an email address for the Federal official in the agency whom the public can contact.
(vi) In the case of State or local agencies, a certification from the Governor, mayor, or other chief executive, as appropriate, that the infrastructure investment has received the full review and vetting required by law and that the chief executive accepts responsibility that the infrastructure investment is an appropriate use of taxpayer dollars. A State or local agency may not receive infrastructure investment funding from funds made available in this Act unless this certification is made.
(2) OPERATIONAL FUNDING.
With respect to funds made available under this Act in the form of grants for operational purposes to State or local government agencies or other organizations, the agency or organization shall publish on the website Recoery.gov a description of the intended use of the funds, including the number of jobs sustained or created.
(c) AVAILABILITY ON INTERNET OF CONTRACTS AND GRANTS.Each contract awarded or grant issued using funds made available in this Act shall be posted on the Internet and linked to the website Recovery.gov. Proprietary data that is required to be kept confidential under applicable Federal or State law or regulation shall be redacted before posting.
as part of an unprecedented effort to root out waste, inefficiency, and unnecessary spending in our government
So they are saying that the Congress should not worry about any legislation they pass or try to weed out waste in legislation before it is passed and becomes established law because this site (under the guidance of the One) will be responsible for doing that job?
Do any of the people in Washington realize the US Constitution is still the framework from which our Government is supposd to work?
Thanks — I heard it was in the draft bill. So the domain choice may receive Congressional approval that would possibly override the GSA rules, but, indeed, this bill hasn’t passed yet.
Also, interesting how it implicitly assumes there will be massive waste and corruption.
Shouldn’t we be able to assume that these protections are in place for all government spending, not just the portions in the stimulus?
well Obama won, so guess no point in having a vote, the website was up before he was sworn in and bill even finalized. It's a done deal.
Keep in mind who will be deciding what is waste. This entire administration is so Orwellian is actually scares me.
Anybody who thought Obama would end “politics as usual” in Washington is a f**king balloon-head. We are about to witness the launching of a permanent campaign. 24/7.
In Canada they have a federal General Services Tax or GST which is tacked on to service charges and almost everything that is purchased. This is in addition to the Provincial sales tax.
It is my belief that the new Obama administration will institute something similar in the US with the original intention to help pay down the debt and increase tax revenue.
Good find — the Obamascum will politicize the various executive depts. like crazy. Of course they are already heavily politicized by Clintonista leftovers and tons of liberal careerists, but the coming years will be worse than ever. They will try to establish everything the Obama admin. wants to say or do as the norm for “objective” govt. and everything else as “radical right” Rush Limbaugh types trying to shift the govt. their way.
They’ve taken it away?? Someone trying to cover their tracks already???
No, now they’ve added a little political message on the site.
Something it is very bizarre for GSA to do for a site supporting a group that hasn’t even been authorized or funded, and is probably against GSA domain rules.
when I now try to look up www.recovery.gov in the Internet Archive/Wayback Machine I get 404 “Page Not Found” errors.
Is someone already trying to erase this trail before it can become news or what is going on with that URL?
Yes, I see that at the www.recovery.gov URL, the Obama political message, but when I went to the other poster’s link and when I tried to look at it from the Wayback Machine there would be “Page Not Found” and “Site Not Found” messages.