One section of the Recovery website is titled GAO Findings. A note at the top of the page says:
The Recovery Act requires the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to review the use of Recovery funds by states and localities every two months. Its reports are below[.]Indeed, all the reports issued since the inception of the program are available on the site. The summaries of the first three reports in 2009 each make reference to a "bimonthly report." After that, the term is dropped and only makes one more appearance in the December 2010 report which refers to "previous bimonthly and recipient reporting reviews." However, in both the highlights and full version of even the most recent report (October 2012,) the bimonthly requirement is mentioned.
With that in mind, here are the issue dates of the reports listed on Recovery.gov:
- April 28, 2009
- July 8, 2009
- September 23, 2009
- November 19, 2009
- December 10, 2009
- March 3, 2010
- May 26, 2010
- September 20, 2010
- December 15, 2010
- April 7, 2011
- June 29, 2011
- June 29, 2011 (two reports issued on same day)
- September 22, 2011
- December 16, 2011
- June 18, 2012
- October 15, 2012
Interestingly, the GAO does not dispute this finding, although a slight discrepancy exists. In a speech on November 16, 2012, in Beijing, China, Gene L. Dodaro, Comptroller General of the United States, made the following statement concerning the reviews and reporting by the GAO:
Since 2009, GAO has issued 17 bimonthly review reports and one more is underway. And we have issued more than 100 other reports and testimonies on Recovery Act funding. These proactive efforts continue to yield very positive results. GAO’s Recovery Act efforts have helped ensure accountability, counter fraud, and promote transparency over where the money went and the results it achieved.Although Dodaro stated "17 bimonthly review reports" have been issued, only 16 are listed on the GOA website as was stated above. In either case, despite the "bimonthly" claim, the reports have averaged around 90 days, or quarterly, not bimonthly, and the total is six or seven short of the 23 called for by the legislation. Here is the relative text from the legislation spelling out the reporting responsibilities of the GAO. There do not appear to be any caveats or exceptions to the bimonthly requirement:
TITLE IX--LEGISLATIVE BRANCHIn a year when the agency has only issued two of six required reports, it is curious to say the least that the head of the GAO continued to refer to the Recovery Act reports as "bimonthly." This misstatement alone is cause for concern about the level of transparency at the government's largest watchdog agency.
GOVERNMENT ACCOUNTABILITY OFFICE
GENERAL PROVISIONS--THIS TITLE
Sec. 901. Government Accountability Office Reviews and Reports. (a) Reviews and Reports-
(1) IN GENERAL- The Comptroller General shall conduct bimonthly reviews and prepare reports on such reviews on the use by selected States and localities of funds made available in this Act. Such reports, along with any audits conducted by the Comptroller General of such funds, shall be posted on the Internet and linked to the website established under this Act by the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board.
Although the GAO works for Congress, the Obama administration is widely recognized as having ownership of the Recovery Act. Though Congress bears some responsibility for being asleep at the switch, with the GAO's reporting in 2012 occurring at only one-third of the level Congress mandated for the trillion-dollar Recovery Act, the Obama administration's pledge to run the "most open and transparent administration in history" could certainly be called into question as well.
UPDATE: I received a response from Chuck Young, Managing Director of Public Affairs for the GAO in which he stated that the "Recovery Act requires bi-monthly reviews but does not require bi-monthly reporting."