Friday, April 3, 2009

I feel very proud that I was picked to help with Obama's project. Officially, it's a program of Bidens, and is being assembled by the Office of Budget and Management and the Inspectors General of the U.S. It's goal to create transparecy to the Recovery Act (i.e the Stimulus Package). My position is small - quality assurance on many of the documents that are to be posted to the site. Still, some of my journalism skills have come into practice when fact-checking and doing grammar checks.

There have been problems, however, and this Washington Times article seems to hit the nail on the head of some of them. It's a good project and could really represent a chance in the way our government talks to us, but it needs work.

Obama's stimulus-spending

Web site short on details

April 02 2009 10:28 AM BY Amanda Carpenter

Concerns are piling up that, the Obama administration's online clearinghouse for stimulus- spending information, isn't producing the kind of transparency it promised.

Obama said the Web site would provide a way for taxpayers to track and monitor how the $700 billion in stimulus money was being spent, yet more than two months after some of the funds were released, the Web site offers little detail on where the money is going.

Rather, the site mainly provides links to other government agencies and features press releases. A stimulus time line reveals government agencies will not be required to provide financial reports until May 15. The site doesn't provide any kind of search function to scour the Web site for information either.

The Sunlight Foundation's Bill Allison praised the administration for moving in the right direction but said, "What's there just isn't that helpful." He noted it would be very difficult to create a system where taxpayers could to track the money after it flows from the federal to the state to the local level. "If I live in Lancaster and I want to see the federal money coming to Lancaster and who is getting the jobs and what effect this is having locally, we are not even close to the point of being able to do that," he said.

(Click link above for rest)

Lame note: These postings are my own and do not necessarily represent GSA's positions, strategies or opinions.


Zeyev said...

"It's goal"? Speaking of the need for checking one's grammar . . .

/s/ Your friendly [sometimes] office fussbudget

Zeyev said...

Now for the content. It's too bad that The Times didn't point out what I see as the real problem.

Let's play with a hypothetical example: GSA is given money to build a new Federal Building in Sandusky. Before you say that Sandusky gets the money, hold on. The Government hired an architectural firm in Detroit, an engineering firm in Cleveland, and a project integrator in Chicago. Where does the Government money go? The Government's money leaves the Government's coffers to destinations in Detroit, Cleveland, and Chicago. But where are most of the employees who got hired to do the "real" work of putting up the bloody building? Sandusky. Does your head hurt yet?

What if we hired only the project integrator to manage the whole thing? Then 100% of the money went to Chicago according to our ledger.

So the poor zhlub in Sandusky who just wanted to know how much money their community got - well, we have no information.

I love gummint.

George said...

I think people just want to see what projects are happening-I for one aren't gonna be a stickler for every last dollar. For example, we in Pawtucket are badly in need of a giant stone tablet for the town center, on which 2 copulating virgins can be crushed by another giant stone tablet for the yearly harvest ritual. Why has no action been taken!