The economic stimulus bill has a number, H.R. 1, and there's a copy available from the House Rules committee. I've completed a quick (for some definition of "quick") overview of executive agency appropriations (pages 4-251 of the 647-page bill). I've not yet reviewed the tax changes.
Here are some highlights:
- The agency with the largest allocation of funds is the Department of Education, with $144.217 billion by my count. Most of this is not school modernization, and I'd argue that very little of it bears even a passing acquaintance with "stimulus."
- Next up, the Department of Transportation, at $43.1 billion by my count. The bulk of that, $30 billion, is Federal Highway Administration projects. If that money can be used to fund state projects that are already green-lighted, then it would clearly have positive job impacts.
- Health & Human Services gets $17.9 billion. A lot of these programs have merit, when we aren't borrowing from Peter to pay Paul. And $88 million to replace a headquarters building? Maybe this is a Washington, D.C. jobs bill.
- The Department of Agriculture has a $35.872 billion allocation, but there are two "blank check" appropriations so this is a minimum outlay. Much of that budget, of course, is what we think of as the food stamp program, but a larger part relates to rural development. So some of it might stimulate jobs.
- There is $10.5 billion allocated to the Department of Defense, primarily for construction and facility modernization. Theoretically, construction = jobs. I don't know about you, but investing in defense installations isn't what I have in mind when I think infrastructure investment.
Note that Congress is calling this an "emergency" bill to get around pay-as-you-go restrictions.
Congress is also allocating $247.5 million to three groups to oversee the spending. One is new, the Accountability and Transparency Board, Chaired by "Chief Performance Officer of the President" (who may appoint an "Executive Director"). There are six other members designated by the President, with terms of office to be set by the President. The Board will have an "Independent Advisory Panel." No Congressional oversight other than "give us a report."
One final word about the plan's technology funds: planning.
Where's the planning? If it hasn't been done already, then we'll be throwing money away if we try to spend billions on technology in less than two years. Throwing It Away.
Heck, 25 percent of web projects go over budget! And web projects are simple compared to reengineering health care records, for example. Only about a third of major IT projects are completed on time, less than half on budget. Almost none are on time, on budget and have the feature set at the end that was envisioned at the beginning. Go read The Mythical Man Month; unfortunately it's a true today as when it was written. For a modern take, read The Deadline: A Novel About Project Management.