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February 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. 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.
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  • Anonymous 02/17/2009 8:30pm

    Doesn’t it seem a bit odd this website was already built before the bill was passed? Even if it passed the Senate and House 4 days ago, that’s quite a website to have been put together in 4 days, let alone the fact that 2 days were the weekend and 1 was a holiday. I’m a web designer and you don’t just throw together a website like that in a day, it would take at least a week or more, or several days between a team. Glad to see our taxpayer dollars at work creating a website before the bill was even passed. The government has never shown to be this efficient. Just saying, make your own conclusions.

  • Anonymous 02/18/2009 9:01am

    Maybe this is what they mean by “48 hours” to allow a bill to be read by the public before it goes to vote. You get to read the bill “48 hours” after the bill is voted on the website.

  • Dem02020 02/18/2009 9:39am

    I sure do like transparency, especially in this particular matter.

    I can’t think of a better way to oversee the spending of these funds, than to make about 20 million or more Americans into public overseers. And I think the more transparent this spending is, the less likely there can be any corruption of it, or even the suspicion. Make all funds spent as accountable as possible, by making account of them on the Internet Wire, and in as timely a manner as possible.

    Also, you saw some of the intense and unyielding opposition to the stimulus bill, opposition even to the very core principle of spending borrowed money versus a recession of money (recession from the consumer and capital markets especially)… you saw that intense opposition, didn’t you? Expect a few people to be rooting for the embarrassment, if not the failure, of the stimulus spending program of the Obama administration… look for a spectacular example or two of fraud waste and abuse of these funds, to appear on Fox and in radio broadcasts, to embarrass even discredit the Obama administration, and to even check the program by way of a loser’s victory… you saw that, didn’t you? You saw how those losers sulked and pouted at the passage of the stimulus, and how opposed they were and still are, against this program?

    Against that type of waste fraud and abuse, against the kind that is blown out of proportion and used in the media to embarrass or discredit the spending program, well maybe the Internet Wire accounting of the stimulus spending will help discourage that too.

    And all of it as real time as possible, I hope: Time is an important element of Justice.

  • Anonymous 02/19/2009 8:14am is a temporary RSS feed that is following until they put up their own feed.

  • Anonymous 02/20/2009 10:44am

    Sort of reminds me of the guy who was losing money on every sale but thought he could make it up by selling more. Does Obama really think he can spend his way out of debt?

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