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If my most recent story piqued your interest on issues of accountability and transparency connected to the federal government’s $700 billion stimulus package, you should definitely check out the work of the investigative journalists over at ProPublica.

ProPublica has a section of its website devoted to tracking the stimulus cash. The site includes a section where local people can adopt the monitoring of a stimulus package project in their area, as well as all sorts of fascinating multi-media features and ongoing news coverage.

Here’s one fascinating story from today that takes a look at the blemished past of some of the contractors hired by the government to do work on stimulus projects. Here’s an extract:

One company paid nearly $1 million for destroying seagrass in the Florida Keys marine sanctuary. Another settled a discrimination case after federal investigators found it refused to hire black employees. A third firm was rebuked by the Army for poorly screening interrogators it hired — interrogators who later abused prisoners at Abu Ghraib.

Despite those problems, the three companies have won millions of dollars in contracts under the economic stimulus package.

In the three months since President Obama signed the $787 billion stimulus bill, the federal government has awarded more than 800 contracts to repair military buildings, thin forests and clean up Cold War nuclear plants. Much of the initial $3.8 billion in awards has gone to large companies with long records of working with the government.

WILL CARLESS

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