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December 17th, 2010

Friday federal funding facts: DOE, NSF trailing other agencies in ability to distribute Recovery Act funding

Published on December 17th, 2010 | By: pwray@ceramics.org

Continuing from my earlier griping about DOE’s inability to deliver on its promises, as the graph above (source: Recovery.gov) shows, the agency has spent less than 1/3 of what it promised to do by now. NSF (below) isn’t any better, spending only 28%, although it’s not clear to me how quickly NSF promised to pay out is Recovery Act monies.

Relatively speaking, the statistics seem to indicate that DOE or NSF are still not doing a good job in getting the Recovery Act money spending. (Keep in mind that, according to the DOE, nearly all of the Recovery Act money grant applications have been awarded.)

For example, this is how other agencies have done with their ARRA funds, as of today:

Agency Rank in Recovery
Act $ spent
% of Recovery
Act Paid Out
Health & Human Serv. 1 84%
Education 2 70%
Labor 3 96%
Transportation 4 58%
Agriculture 5 79%
Social Security Admin. 6 100%
Energy 7 32%
NSF 18 28%

As I keep repeating, this isn’t meant to be a swipe at Secretary Chu. I think he his a brilliant guy, a great visionary, a very good spokesperson and a pretty good leader. I still think the bottleneck is down below him.

Yes, the accounting bureaucracy is hard and messy. Chu’s problem is that there are people the genuinely don’t like him or the general direction of DOE, and the political pythons are sooner or later going to sense that the time is right to go after him and someone in his chain of command is creating just the opening they need.

Hopefully, I will be wrong about this. But, I just don’t get why most of the science community is pretending that there is no apparent problem here.


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