Appliance Rebate Fiasco

(Someone had better fix this problem quickly. - promoted by desmoinesdem)

I thought that the appliance rebate was going to make some good headlines for Gov. Culver.  But it looks like it is going down as a fiasco.  The program was supposed to start at 8:00AM today, but by 8:10, the website was already down.  

It only had the message: "The service is unavailable."  

 The phone lines are also jammed.  Most of the time I don't even get a busy signal, it just leaves me hanging, listening to static.  Has anyone else tried to get a rebate yet?

UPDATE from desmoinesdem: The $2.8 million in stimulus money for these rebates in Iowa was exhausted in one day. Representative Bruce Braley has urged House Speaker Nancy Pelosi “to include funding for clean energy appliance rebate programs in any jobs legislation considered by the House.”

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Infrastructure spending needs strong oversight

All government spending on infrastructure is not created equal. With good planning and accountability measures, the federal stimulus and state bonding packages approved this year by Congress and the Iowa legislature could turn out to be wise investments with long-term benefits. Without proper monitoring, we could squander lots of borrowed federal and state money.

Laura Dean of the Huffington Post drew my attention to the Project on Government Oversight‘s review of state websites on the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (the official name for the stimulus bill). They were specifically looking for resources for those who want to report fraud, waste and abuse in how federal stimulus funds are being used.

The findings are summarized here. Iowa did well as one of only seven states that “listed clear procedures for whistleblowers, such as what information to report, who to report to, and what will be done with that information.” (“Report stimulus fraud” is right on the front page of Iowa’s site, in the “featured links” section.)

However, there’s always room for improvement. The Project on Government Oversight applauded a few especially “whistleblower-friendly websites”:

Tied for first prize were Florida and Georgia, whose sites did an excellent job of providing clear procedures and protections for whistleblowers. Next up were Maine, Connecticut, and Texas, whose websites all did a good job of making the whistleblower’s job just a little bit easier.

Perhaps the webmaster for Iowa’s site on federal stimulus spending can make a few changes based on the Project on Government Oversight’s recommendations (pdf file).

As for state spending on infrastructure, the I-JOBS board will choose projects to receive funds soon. The criteria for selection are clear, and state officials understand the need for transparency in the process. Once the money has been allocated, the I-JOBS website should make it easy for citizens not only to track how the money is being spent, but to report any suspected fraud, waste or abuse.

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