Friday, February 1, 2013

Thirteen Months Between Council of Economic Advisors "Quarterly" Reports on Recovery Act

    A few weeks ago, I noted that the Government Accountability Office had taken some liberties with the term "bi-monthly" with the reviews and reports that were required by Congress in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.  Instead of 23 reports, the GAO had issued only 16 or 17 instead, but still used the term "bi-monthly." When I contacted the GAO for comment, I received a response that claimed that the "Recovery Act requires bi-monthly reviews but does not require bi-monthly reporting."

    Now it's President Obama's Council of Economic Advisors' turn to engage in some creative redefinition.  Just today, the Council issued a report on the 2009 Recovery Act.  Here's the title page noting it's the ninth such quarterly report:

    The obvious implication is that if one were interested in the eighth quarterly report, November 1, 2012 would be about the time such a report might have been issued.  However, one actually has to go back almost a full year before that to locate the eighth "quarterly" report, all the way to December 9, 2011:

    Given the magnitude of the misstatement on the cover of the report, it seems fair to question the reliability of the information on the following 22 pages.  The Executive Summary at the beginning of the report doesn't bode well:
As part of the unprecedented accountability and transparency provisions included in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA), the Council of Economic Advisers(CEA) is  charged with providing to Congress quarterly reports on the effects of  the Recovery Act on overall economic activity, and on employment in particular.  This is the ninth report and it provides an assessment of the effects of the Act through the third quarter of 2012.  
    If another thirteen months pass before the next "quarterly" report, the CEA might want to rethink using the "unprecedented accountability and transparency" line again.

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