NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Local News

March 31, 2010

Fed stimulus watchdogs apologize to Amesbury

Feds apologize to Amesbury cops

AMESBURY — After filing reports on 10 different pop-up computer screens, having the reports accepted and then getting a letter to resubmit additional reports, Amesbury police thought they had done everything needed to apply for federal stimulus funds.

But the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board, the Washington, D.C.-based watchdog agency charged with safeguarding federal money, placed them on its "two-time loser" list. The list was meant to identify and embarrass recipients of stimulus grants who have failed to file the first two required reports detailing how they spent their stimulus grants.

Instead, it's the watchdog group that ended up being embarrassed.

"I got a call we were on it (the list), but it was a mistake, and we had been taken off the loser list," Deputy Chief Gary Ingham said.

While the original list had 389 recipients, the revised list released Thursday includes 310 offenders. The Amesbury Police Department is no longer one of them.

Earl Devaney, the chairman of the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board, released a statement to the media apologizing for the error.

"This mistake should not have occurred, and I regret that it did," he said.

The problem was inconsistencies between the names from the spending records federal agencies sent to the board and the accounting reports, board spokesman Ed Pound said.

But yesterday, Cheryl Arvidson, assistant director of communications, said in an e-mail, "I suggest you discuss this with the Justice Department, which gave us the original list of recipients that were identified as failing to report for the first two reporting periods. After the Recovery Board review, our findings were sent to (Office of Management and Budget), and the Justice Department then was asked by OMB whether or not the listing was correct. Officials there should be able to respond to your questions."

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