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January 15, 2009 - by Donny Shaw

The website picture above – – will soon be transformed into a database for information on new spending originating from the $825 billion economic stimulus package. This part of Congress’s effort to bring “a historic level of transparency, oversight and accountability” to the stimulus so that “taxpayer dollars are spent wisely and Americans can see results for their investment,” as stated in the draft summary. Below is the mandate to build the site contained in the House’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (.pdf):

>(a) REQUIREMENT TO ESTABLISH WEBSITE.— The Board shall establish and maintain a website on the Internet to be named, to foster greater accountability and transparency in the use of funds made avail1able in this Act.
>(b) PURPOSE.— shall be a portal or gateway to key information related to this Act and provide a window to other Government websites with related information.
MATTERS COVERED.—In establishing the website, the Board shall ensure the following:
>(1) The website shall provide materials explaining what this Act means for citizens. The materials shall be easy to understand and regularly updated.
(2) The website shall provide accountability information, including a database of findings from audits, inspectors general, and the Government Accountability Office.
(3) The website shall provide data on relevant economic, financial, grant, and contract information in user-friendly visual presentations to enhance public awareness of the use funds made available in this Act.
(4) The website shall provide detailed data on contracts awarded by the Government for purposes of carrying out this Act, including information about the competitiveness of the contracting process, noti1fication of solicitations for contracts to be awarded, and information about the process that was used for the award of contracts.
(5) The website shall include printable reports on funds made available in this Act obligated by month to each State and congressional district.
(6) The website shall provide a means for the public to give feedback on the performance of contracts awarded for purposes of carrying out this Act.
(7) The website shall be enhanced and updated as necessary to carry out the purposes of this subtitle.

And here are some more specifics from the bill text on exactly what information is going to have to be posted:

>With respect to funds made available under this Act for infrastructure investments to Federal, State, or local government agencies, the following requirements apply:
>(A) Each such agency shall notify the public of funds obligated to particular infrastructure investments by posting the notification on the website
(B) The notification required by subparagraph (A) shall include the following:
>(i) A description of the infrastructure investment funded.
(ii) The purpose of the infrastructure investment.
(iii) The total cost of the infrastructure investment.
(iv) The rationale of the agency for funding the infrastructure investment with funds made available under this Act.
(v) The name of the person to contact at the agency if there are concerns with the infrastructure investment and, with respect to Federal agencies, an email address for the Federal official in the agency whom the public can contact.
(vi) In the case of State or local agencies, a certification from the Governor, mayor, or other chief executive, as appropriate, that the infrastructure investment has received the full review and vetting required by law and that the chief executive accepts responsibility that the infrastructure investment is an appropriate use of taxpayer dollars. A State or local agency may not receive infrastructure investment funding from funds made available in this Act unless this certification is made.
>With respect to funds made available under this Act in the form of grants for operational purposes to State or local government agencies or other organizations, the agency or organization shall publish on the website a description of the intended use of the funds, including the number of jobs sustained or created.
AVAILABILITY ON INTERNET OF CONTRACTS AND GRANTS.—Each contract awarded or grant issued using funds made available in this Act shall be posted on the Internet and linked to the website Proprietary data that is required to be kept confidential under applicable Federal or State law or regulation shall be redacted before posting.

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