Is the federal stimulus creating tech jobs? The government isn't saying
Recovery.gov usability, data quality draws critics
Computerworld - WASHINGTON -- One obvious follow-up question to the U.S. government's announcement this month that the federal stimulus has created or saved 30,000 jobs so far is this: How many were IT and engineering jobs?
Unfortunately, there isn't an answer.
There is no information at Recovery.gov concerning the types of jobs either saved or created from the $16 billion in contracts awarded so far, representing 2% of the $787 billion stimulus.
The Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board that provides Recovery.gov, designed to allow citizens to track funding, is posting only what it gets in reports from recipients. "We are not analyzing it in terms of types of jobs," said a board spokeswoman.
"That sort of analysis may be made at a later date, once we get the additional recipient reports on grants and loans posted on the Web site," but there's no time frame for providing it, she said.
The Recovery.gov site includes interactive maps and spreadsheets showing companies that have received the data, the number of jobs created or saved, and a description of some of the work. This barebones information makes a rough guess possible about the quality of jobs based on description of the work, but that's it.
"One of the primary reasons for the stimulus money is to create jobs and one of the primary things we would like to know from this data is what kinds of jobs were created," said Tony Fisher, the president and CEO of data management firm DataFlux Corp.
He blamed the lack of detailed information on an absence of data, a lack of consistency to the data we have and insufficient rules governing how that data is supposed to be collected and displayed.
"[Recovery.gov] falls short in a number of respects in helping users understanding spending," said Craig Jennings, a senior policy analyst for OBM Watch, a nonprofit government watchdog group.
Ease of navigation is among the problems is with the Web site, which does not allow users to search by recipient. This prompted the creation this month of the Coalition for and Accountable Recovery, which represents about 30 groups.
Along with OMB Watch, some of its other members include the Center for Responsive Politics, OMB Watch, Sunlight Foundation, Economic Policy Institute. The groups criticized the usability of the Web site, and said it needed certain functions, such as ability to search by recipient.
The stimulus is expected to create IT jobs but there's never been an estimate concerning how many. The number of both IT and engineering jobs has declined in the recession.
However, IT firms are expecting the stimulus to perk up spending. Mark Loughbridge, IBM's chief financial officer, said this month that public sector was again the fastest growing sector with 2% growth, led by health care and education.
"Now I think this is quite logical given the rollout of stimulus spend globally," he told analysts on a third quarter earnings call this month.
Meanwhile, Sun Microsystems Inc. said this week it is cutting 3,000 jobs as it awaits the acquisition of Oracle Corp.
Read more about Government IT in Computerworld's Government IT Topic Center.
This state transportation department uses computer science students from a local university as programming interns, and everyone is happy with the arrangement -- until one intern learns how to bring down the mainframe.
- IT Certification Study Tips
- Register for this Computerworld Insider Study Tip guide and gain access to hundreds of premium content articles, cheat sheets, product reviews and more.
- Changing the Way Government Works: Four Technology Trends that Drive Down Costs and Increase Productivity
- This paper discusses four technology-based approaches to improving processes and increasing
productivity while driving down department and agency costs.
- Path Selection Infographic
- Path Selection Infographic
- Hyperconvergence Infographic
- A wide range of observers agree that data centers are now entering an era of "hyperconvergence" that will raise network traffic levels faster...
- Preparing Your Infrastructure for the Hyperconvergence Era
- From cloud computing and virtualization to mobility and unified communications, an array of innovative technologies is transforming today's data centers.
- How WAN Optimization Helps Enterprises Reduce Costs
- If you wanted to break down innovation into a tidy equation, it might go something like this: Technology + Connectivity = Productivity. Productivity... All Government IT White Papers
- LIVE EVENT: 5/7, The End of Data Protection As We Know It. Introducing a Next Generation Data Protection Architecture. Traditional backup is going away, but where does this leave end-users?
- On-demand webinar: "Mobility Mayhem: Balancing BYOD with Enterprise Security" Check out this on-demand webinar to hear Sophos senior security expert John Shier deep dive into how BYOD impacts your enterprise security strategy...
- Mobile Security: Containerizing Enterprise Data In this on-demand webinar, Fixmo's Lee Cocking, VP of corporate strategy, explains why Apple-ization trends like mobility and "bring-your-own-device" (BYOD) are driving the...
- Endpoint Data Management: Protecting the Perimeter of the Internet of Things Not surprisingly, "Internet of Things" (IoT) and Big Data present new challenges AND opportunities for enterprise IT. Teams need to harness, secure and...
- How to Protect Enterprise Data Yet Enable Secure Access for End Users Learn how BYOD, Big Data and the use of rogue applications and devices is putting corporate data at risk, best practices from IT...
- All Government IT Webcasts