Recovery.gov Goes LiveFebruary 17, 2009 - by Donny Shaw
The stimulus bill
hasn’t (update: has been) been signed into law yet, but one of its mandates – the establishment of a public website to track how the stimulus funds are being spent – has already been implemented.
Recovery.gov went live earlier today with projections on the bill’s impact in public investment and job creation based on the final version of the legislation. At first glance, it is refreshingly attractive and user-friendly for a government website. There are some simple visualizations of where all the money is going and a handy timeline showing all the reporting requirements for federal agencies and groups that receive stimulus money. Of course, there are also areas for improvement. One thing I’d like to see is RSS feeds for all the data so that I can review it as soon as it is made public.
Overall, the launch of the website does indeed feel like an important moment; a key indicator that the internet is being recognized by government as an essential element of disclosure and public oversight.
As for the specific information that will be posted on the site in the coming weeks and months, here’s what is required by the legislation:
(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 in formation, including 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 of covered funds.
(4) The website shall provide detailed data on contracts awarded by the Federal Government that expend covered funds, including information about the competitiveness of the contracting process, information about the process that was used for the award of contracts, and for contracts over $500,000 a summary of the contract.
(5) The website shall include printable reports on covered funds 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 that expend covered funds.
(7) The website shall include detailed information on Federal Government contracts and grants that expend covered funds, to include the data elements required to comply with the Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act of 2006 (Public Law 109-282), allowing aggregate reporting on awards below $25,000 or to individuals, as prescribed by the Director of the Office of Management and Budget.
(8) The website shall provide a link to estimates of the jobs sustained or created by the Act.
(9) The website shall provide a link to information about announcements of grant competitions and solicitations for contracts to be awarded.
(10) The website shall include appropriate links to other government websites with information concerning covered funds, including Federal agency and State websites.
(11) The website shall include a plan from each Federal agency for using funds made available in this Act to the agency.
(12) The website shall provide information on Federal allocations of formula grants and awards of competitive grants using covered funds.
(13) The website shall provide information on Federal allocations of mandatory and other entitlement programs by State, county, or other appropriate geographical unit.
(14) To the extent practical, the website shall provide, organized by the location of the job opportunities involved, links to and information about how to access job opportunities, including, if possible, links to or information about local employment agencies, job banks operated by State workforce agencies, the Department of Labor’s CareerOneStop website, State, local and other public agencies receiving Federal funding, and private firms contracted to perform work with Federal funding, in order to direct job seekers to job opportunities created by this Act.
(15) The website shall be enhanced and updated as necessary to carry out the purposes of this subtitle.
(d) WAIVER.-The Board may exclude posting contractual or other information on the website on a case by-case basis when necessary to protect national security or to protect information that is not subject to disclosure under sections 552 and 552a of title 5, United States Code.