In her Senate confirmation hearing, Secretary of State-designate Hillary Rodham Clinton reiterated Obama's pledge, saying, "We will participate in the upcoming U.N. Copenhagen Climate Conference and a global energy forum."
By ZACK HALE
The sheer size of the $787 billion stimulus package, much of which will be channeled to private contractors for "shovel-ready" projects, might seem to render hollow Obama's campaign promise to cut federal contract spending by at least 10 percent. While it remains to be seen whether Obama will cut spending that much, the early numbers suggest outflows to federal contractors are on pace to match last year’s totals.
To be sure, stimulus funds have been disbursed slowly up to this point, making it difficult to predict how much money the federal government will award to private contractors (see chart of recently announced stimulus spending below). According to Recovery.gov, only about $36 billion was paid out through the end of May, just $1.8 billion of which was awarded in federal contracts.
Combined with regular spending, the federal government has so far this year written checks for $146 billion on slightly more than 1 million federal contracts (see chart below). That's less than half the total spent in 2008 and about 3 million fewer contracts, largely because most of the stimulus money is being spent on the state and local level. These numbers will change, however, as the pace of recovery spending increases -- Obama announced Monday that the federal government will pump money into public works projects during the summer in an effort to create or save 600,000 jobs.
Tracking progress on Obama's reform-minded pledge is even more difficult because his promise of greater transparency is moving as slowly as stimulus funds. Critics have complained that the administration has taken too long to post spending data on Recovery.gov.
A database disclosing how much federal contractors spend on lobbying and their success at completing contracts has not been created, despite steps towards greater transparency. Obama's Memorandum on Transparency and Open Government directs the federal agencies to post more information online, and Recovery.gov was launched to track stimulus bill funding. These first steps, however, have not yet resulted in the promised database.
In a press conference, Secretary Duncan tied the distribution of $4.35 billion in stimulus funds marked for education to charter schools. "States that don't have charter laws or put artificial caps on the growth of charter schools would jeopardize their application under the Race to the Top Fund," he said.