"An Eye (Many Eyes) on the Stimulus Money"

"An Eye (Many Eyes) on the Stimulus Money"

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Hey, Jennifer 8. Lee at the NY Times writes a really good article on crowdsourcing oversight for stimulus money.

Sunlight seems to be the trendy buzzword these days. First there was the Sunlight Foundation, which was established in Washington in 2006 to lobby for better government data. Then Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo’s office started Project Sunlight to share New York State information online. And last week, City Councilman Bill de Blasio jumped on the solar bandwagon with a proposed legislation to create SunlightNYC, to keep track of stimulus dollars in New York.

The Obama administration has promised transparency in stimulus spending data at Recovery.gov at the federal level (in contrast with the opacity on the TARP bill).

This is a good example of the culture of participation, public/private partnership that we see during the Obama years.

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Paul Wilkinson

This is the key FAQ at recovery.gov:
Q: Is the spending data on recovery.gov available in a format (like XML) that developers can use to create mashups and gadgets?
A: Not at this time. But, as new systems are developed to capture the allocations and expenditures under the Act, we plan to make that data available in exportable form.
I blogged about this at http://paulwilkinson.com/2009/02/26/administration-memo-on-reccoverygov-falls-short/, suggesting a "government-wide framework, in plain English, that can be used to classify every single expenditure, each of which in turn would require a concise plain English description of its purpose certified by the person responsible for approving the expenditure." Information about the asset backed securities at the heart of the current crisis were posted on the Web, but the problem was it was in ASCII or HTML, not structured data format. The same mistake shouldn't be made for the spending financed by the Treasury securities intended to mitigate the damage from the collapse of the asset backed securities.

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