Recovery.gov is the website that Obama uses to deliver on his promise to let us monitor “to the last dime” of the government money that is being spent in the simulus package. However, reporting on progress and spending is a difficult thing if you have to fall back on formal reporting mechanisms from the whole country to the lowest bureaucratic levels. At this moment they are saying that the first reports will be delivered somewhere in Oktober (november, december …).
In comes a commercial company, Onvia, that made a website that tracks the planning and spending of the stimulus package on the website recovery.org. This website relies on a crawler mechanism that checks thousands of websites on information about spending in relation to the stimulus package and make this information available to the public. For companies to lead them to intesting projects to pitch and for citizens to check what kind of projects are being setup in your local neighbourhood and make it possible to complain about silly projects to local politicians. Below is an interview with the CEO of Onvia:
I think this is an interesting development where formal reporting procedures are turn out to be much slower than can be achieved with public scanning of websites and some intelligence of crowds. Question of course is to check the validity of the information but, as they say in open source: with enough eyeballs all bugs are shallow. Enough citizens using a website like this to check on progress and projects means a pretty good check on the validity of information.