January 6, 2010

Analysis: Phantom Md. ZIPs get stimulus money

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First the federal government gave Maryland 15 new and nonexistent congressional districts in its accounting of federal stimulus spending, as reported here in November.

Now, the U.S. government’s online site says that over $15 million from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act were spent in six Maryland ZIP codes that do not exist, as well as in ZIP codes that are located in other states.

According to a report on WatchDog.org, 171 nonexistent ZIP codes across the country got a total of $376 million in grants, loans and government contracts, as shown on Recovery.gov.  The Obama administration produced the Web site to encourage transparency in the process of doling out stimulus funds.

Watchdog.org is a project of the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity, which has helped MarylandReporter.com with sources of financial support.

The phantom congressional districts were first discovered in November by the New Mexico Watchdog, which also uncovered phantom ZIP codes. The National Transparency Board, which oversees the Web site, has attempted to correct the errors on the congressional districts. The new report suggests that other errors persist.