Recovery Board offers transparency lessons

Wednesday - 3/16/2011, 3:06pm EDT

Ed Pound, Director of Communications, Recovery Board

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Recovery.gov has set the standard for transparency and openness in following the money.

The Recovery Board, which manages Recovery.gov, tracks the $787 billion in stimulus funds. The board has released its 2010 Annual Report, looking back at its challenges and triumphs in the stimulus bill's second year.

Overall, the board was "pretty pleased" with its oversight, said Ed Pound, one of the report's principal authors and the board's director of communications, in an interview with the DorobekINSIDER.

At the beginning, however, the Board did not have certain "hard checks" in place, Pound said. For example, some people reporting data entered the incorrect congressional district for their address. Now there is a check that prohibits a person from submitting their data if the district does not match the address, he said.

The Recovery Board - led by former Interior Inspector General Earl Devaney and 12 other IGs - is now pushing for "deeper reporting of recipients of money," Pound said.

The board also has a goal of engaging the public even more, Pound said.

Currently, citizens can call a hotline to report fraud or abuse. The board has acted on these leads, but it's too early to know how many of those initial calls will become indictments. Criminal investigations usually take two years, Pound said.

Vice President Joe Biden has tapped the Recovery Board to compile its lessons learned into a report that could become a template for transparency in government, Pound said. The biggest lesson learned, however, is how much transparency drives accountability, he said.

"When it's out there for people to see, it's less likely that people who have this money might misuse this money," Pound said.