This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," October 29, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
JAMIE COLBY, FOX NEWS GUEST HOST: I'd encourage you to pay attention to this story because the question was raised today whether the White House has overstated how many jobs have actually been created or saved by the stimulus. We report, you decide. According to the first count of job creation on Recovery.gov, more than 30,000 jobs were created or saved by the $787 billion stimulus program. Then a new report by the Associated Press found something very different. And in case you were wondering, the White House is not all that happy about what the AP did.
Joining us live is the AP reporter, Brett Blackledge. Brett, thanks for joining us. Tell us what you found.
BRETT BLACKLEDGE, ASSOCIATED PRESS: Well, thanks for having me. What we found was that the report that's used to tell us how many jobs the stimulus created is wrong. There are some errors in it, a good many of them. And we looked at that and reported on that today, finding where some businesses had multiple counts of jobs where the same employees were being counted many times. Other businesses were counting employees or workers, when in fact, they didn't hire anybody. They used money for things like buying equipment or for giving employees pay raises.
COLBY: So you're saying some of the money that they claim went to new jobs actually went to give raises to employees they already had. Some jobs weren't given at all. You haven't even had a chance to go through all of the job contracts yet, and you already found a disparity of that 30,000 to the number of 5,000 jobs?
BLACKLEDGE: Well, that's correct, Jamie. And to be clear, there's no suggestion that the money was used inappropriately. What we're talking about is the way that the jobs that are created or saved, the way they're reported. And what we learned, looking at a sample of the contracts -- not all 9,000, but looking at a sampling of them, there were many errors in the reporting.
COLBY: How did you find all this out?
BLACKLEDGE: Well, you could go yourself on the Recovery.gov Web site, where currently, they still show a little over 30,000 jobs that have been created or saved. And on that Web site, some excellent data, very detailed, describing the number of jobs, the types of jobs, and in many instances, the kinds of things the money was used for. By looking through that data, as many of the contracts as we could look at in a sample, we were able to determine where those problems existed.
COLBY: Let me just give an example based on research that we did in talking to you. A Georgia community college reported creating 280 jobs with recovery money, but none were created with stimulus spending.
BLACKLEDGE: That's correct. And now they say it is being corrected. They are going to put zero, in fact, where the job category would go because they purchased material and a modular classroom in that instance.
COLBY: Even a company working for the Federal Communications Commission, the FCC, reported stimulus money paid for 4,200 jobs, when about only 1,000 were produced, according to your report. What is the White House reaction to this?
BLACKLEDGE: Well, the White House is critical of the report, saying that they are trying to correct these problems. They are aware of inaccuracies. But the fact of the matter is, for two weeks, these numbers have been provided to the public as examples of how the stimulus has succeeded. Now, they promise that tomorrow, a new report for the stimulus will be released, and in that report, they're going to correct many of these mistakes. Not all of them because many of the ones that they're receiving, the new job reports, they'll have to go through and look for these kinds of errors.
But the question is, I think, what is the accurate count? What do we know from what the government is telling us about the jobs created through the stimulus? And the fact is that the process they're using to count has problems.
COLBY: Will you continue to look into this before I finish with you? I'm really curious, will you continue to ask these questions?
BLACKLEDGE: Absolutely, yes. At the Associated Press we have been working for many months to look at issues related to the stimulus. We are going to take the data that's provided tomorrow.
I know a lot of news organizations are going to be interested, and we'll all be looking though, scouring for these issue types of issues, and to find out, frankly, where there are correcting issues, too. We want to be fair about that.
COLBY: And again, to be fair, we report, and everyone else can decide. Thank you so much, Brett, for being with us.
BLACKLEDGE: Thanks for having me.
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