Stimulus Package Reporting Sometimes Completely Wrong, But That’s OK

So Barrett “Shared in Google Reader” a post about how there is some errant reporting on – the government’s website for publicly displaying how the money for that 787 billion dollar stimulus package that was passed in February 2009.  The website shows jobs created or saved due to the stimulus in many Congressional districts that simply don’t exist.  Clearly, that is a problem.

If you receive money from the stimulus package you are required to periodically report what you spent the money on. The cause of the discrepancies is due to the fact that all information reported on is user submitted and not validated.    The problem here is the lack of validation being performed on the submitted data.  Any good programmer knows you have to validate user supplied data before accepting it.  Why they would choose not to validate it escapes me.  At least a high-level validation should be required, e.g. validating that the submitted district number exists.

That all being said, this is how the website was set up to function.  This isn’t the fault of the recovery website, it is a fault of the users submitting the data.  Could you make the argument that the information being submitted should be validated though, sure.

In a somewhat related tangent, no one would have ever known about this had the website not been created in the first place.  To me, what this shows is that people are actually holding the government accountable for what they’re spending all this money on.  This is a good thing.  Keep that in mind.

Via Barrett’s Google Reader re-post of Reason Magazine’s article That Stimulus is So Freaking Awesome it Has Created or Saved Jobs in Congressional Districts That Don’t Even Exist!.