UPDATE: Even with a real zip code, it takes 7 hours to report on $2,000 contract 

As if dozens of fraudulent congressional districts, phony stimulus jobs, and fake zip codes found on Recovery.gov aren’t enough, we now learn that the website used by stimulus recipients to report their use of federal money is also a mess.

The owner of a small Midwestern firm told The Examiner that it took him and his staff at least seven hours to record receipt of a $2,000 stimulus contract. The website – www.federalreporting.gov - is so poorly designed, he said, that it kept timing out before they could finish inputting their data which, by the way, is done after the money has all been spent. In addition, the website apparently only accepts stimulus spending reports ten days out of every quarter.

“We spent a whole hour on the phone with the help desk and had to do it three times” before the site would accept the information, the company’s frustrated owner, who asked to remain anonymous, told The Examiner.

One of the reasons it took an entire day to fill out a form for a $2,000 contract was because the online form asked for information – such as funding agency codes – they were not provided. They also spent a lot of time puzzling over arcane governmental jargon that didn’t make any sense to them.

Ironically, the same system that accepts fake zip codes without question blocked the company’s correct zip code. “We put in our zip code, but we didn’t put in the four-digit extension, so we had to go back,” the contractor told us. “But you could probably put in any zip code, because it leaves it up to the person reporting that the information is correct.”

So a real zip code with five digits won’t pass muster, but a fake one with nine digits will. At least the federal government has some standards left!

The small company, which has 15 employees and both government and private sector clients, did not report that any jobs were “saved or created” because none were. “If I don’t get a government bid, nobody loses their job. If I win a government bid, we don’t hire somebody extra either.”

Besides the customer-unfriendly website, various agencies gave the company conflicting reports on what needed to be reported and what didn’t.  “We would really have liked to get this done in 10 minutes.”

Dream on.

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