Obama signs recovery bill into law with heightened transparency requirements

[JURIST] US President Barack Obama [official profile] on Tuesday signed into law the $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) [materials], intended to stimulate and grow the US economy in the current recession. Along with a number of tax incentives, renewable energy funding provisions, and infrastructure project funding, the law creates a new accountability and transparency regime and website at Recovery.gov [official website] to ensure the proper usage of funds distributed under the ARRA. The new website, one of several innovative communications projects undertaken by the Obama administration, provides users with information from federal agencies receiving funds under the ARRA concerning how, when, and where the funds are spent. In remarks delivered at the signing ceremony, Obama said [text]:

With a recovery package of this size comes a responsibility to assure every taxpayer that we are being careful with the money they work so hard to earn. And that's why I'm assigning a team of managers to ensure that the precious dollars we've invested are being spent wisely and well. ... [W]e're going to hold governors and local officials who receive the money to the same high standard. And we expect you, the American people, to hold us accountable for the results. And that's why we've created Recovery.gov -- a web site so that every American can go online and see how this money is being spent and what kind of job is being created, where those jobs are being created. We want transparency and accountability throughout this process.
According to White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, the Obama administration is considering a second stimulus bill [NYT report] to complement the ARRA.

The ARRA had come under Congressional scrutiny in the US Senate earlier this month with the amendment [JURIST report] of the "Buy American" clause of the law requiring that all goods used in construction projects, particularly iron and steel, be manufactured in the US in order to receive stimulus funding. The provision was revised to clarify that the law will be applied consistently with US obligations under international trade agreements. Many countries, including Canada, were pleased [Reuters report] with the Senate's move to amend the provision, but international industry groups like the European steel confederation Eurofer [official website] believe the move does not go far enough [press release]. The previous version of the bill raised global concerns [JURIST report] about protectionism. Obama has already separated himself from the "Buy American" provision, saying in an interview [transcript] earlier this month: "That is a potential source of trade wars that we can't afford at a time when trade is sinking all across the globe."

 

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