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Tuesday, January 01, 2008

OBM's 'Transparency' Website: Finally Moves Pelosi From Ohio To California

CINCINNATI (TDB) -- The new federal online portal designed to make details about government spending more transparent can be quite muddy at times. finally shows that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's congressional district isn't in Ohio, and didn't account for $184,209,050 in federal contracts in the state during fiscal year 2005. The old report showed federal contract dollars flowing into her faux Ohio district at a rate second only to that of U.S. Rep. John Boehner in OH-08. The latest report shows government contracts in OH-08 were valued at $196,394,602 in FY 2005; that is down dramatically from $330,563,132 reported on the transparency Website as recently as Dec. 28.

Federal officials says they are constantly updating and correcting data as it comes in from spending agencies. There is billions to keep up with in Ohio -- in FY 2006 some $8.2 billion, assuming the number hasn't changed in the past few hours. The FY2007 data currently on the transparency portal shows that Boehner's district received $492,503,380 from federal contracts. A few days ago, the number was far higher at $1.22 billion. Half the money simply vanished on the updated transparency report.

OH-o1 Republican Steve Chabot -- who represents a Cincinnati district next door to Boehner's -- seems to be the beneficiary of the shifting numbers. Federal dollars flowing to government contractors in Chabot's chunk of Ohio turf more than doubled from nearly $502 million to $1.33 billion.

Of course, all the numbers could be bogus, inaccurate or subject to revision. There just doesn't seem to be a way to trust the data reported on the line showing "Top 5 Known Congressional Districts Where Work Is Performed." Or it may be as simple as this: Even the federal government doesn't really know where all the money is going. Still, have some fun and check this current version of the FY2006 spending report. Will it be the same in two days?

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