Center for Social Inclusion offers Congressional Testimony on Oversight of Stimulus Spending

September 22, 2009

New York, NY—The Center for Social Inclusion (CSI), a national policy advocacy organization, submitted expert testimony to the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform on September 23rd, 2009. CSI works with grassroots and national allies to develop strategies for creating opportunities in communities of color. Our applied research and advocacy are widely viewed by foundations, politicians and community organizers as offering valuable solutions for an equitable recovery.

The first round of reporting on Stimulus spending is due on October 10th, giving us a unique opportunity to consider the impact of this historic investment, and the potential to grow our economy for years to come. But without some corrections, CSI reports that the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) can not be
well-targeted to boost the economy where it will do the most good, in communities of color where the recession has done the most harm.

In congressional testimony provided to the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, CSI outlines recommendations detailing what data the Federal Government must collect and make transparent so that ARRA is reaching those most impacted by the recession. Full text of the testimony is available here.

A report by the President’s Council of Economic Advisors suggests why there’s reason to worry. The Council reports that ARRA has created as many as 1.1 million jobs. CSI findings report, however, that two-thirds of these jobs were created in sectors of the economy where White people are disproportionately represented:
manufacturing, trade, transportation, utilities, and professional and business services. People of color are the fastest growing demographic, and they have bore the brunt of this economic downturn, with higher unemployment and higher foreclosure rates than their White counterparts.

“We need the right data to have the right recovery. We applaud the unprecedented effort represented by American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to prevent crisis by investing proactively in communities, but building a resilient economy depends on a recovery that reaches everyone, so that we all can contribute to a
thriving nation,” said Maya Wiley, the Executive Director of the Center for Social Inclusion. To realize this goal:

  • Recipients of ARRA funds must be required to report data on the ethnicity, race, gender, disability status, zip code, educational attainment, and income level for those who secure jobs created by Stimulus ARRA funds. Without these data we won’t know if jobs are going to the hardest-hit communities.
  • ARRA funded projects should be identified by the site address, NOT the address of the responsible agency. Such information is crucial to evaluate which areas will benefit from a project. Data should detail if the project improves on existing services or expands services.
  • Finally, all data should be available in formats that allow information to be easily searched, analyzed, and mapped.

With these recommendations in place, responsible leaders will be able to improve the implementation of the Recovery Act and invest wisely in the future.

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