Easy Access to Recovery Data
Transparency isn’t transparency if you cannot understand the information being presented on a government website.
That’s why we have concentrated so intensely on improving Recovery.gov, the Recovery Board’s website that posts spending data from recipients of Recovery Act funds along with financial reports from the 28 federal agencies that distribute the money.
Of course, no system is perfect. Data quality is essential to transparency and in the early days of the program, back in October 2009, the quality of some recipient reports was, to put it mildly, poor. Over time, the reports improved markedly—so much so that we now consider data quality to be excellent.
At the direction of the Recovery Board, the staff continues making improvements to the website so that users—the public, the press, watchdog organizations, and others—can access information easily and understand what they are reviewing.
Our latest innovation is something we call the Recipient Projects Map. Take a look and I think you will find it even easier to get the information you want from Recovery.gov. Simply put, you can access state summaries, profiles of recipients, and award summaries all in one place. Consistent with the Board’s long-standing approach to transparency, this new tool provides detailed information on spending at the local level. The information comes from quarterly spending reports submitted by recipients.
Let’s take a quick tour:
Recovery.gov offers several ways to easily access the Recipient Projects Map. Here are two of them: Go to Recovery.gov and click on any state on the blue map located on the top right side of the homepage. Or, alternatively, go to the top of the homepage and click on the “WHERE IS THE MONEY GOING?” drop down menu and select recipient and agency data to get to the projects map.
Once on the map page, it’s easy to get a lot of information on who is getting what in a specific state.
Let’s take Louisiana, for instance. Right off, you can see that 3,142 awards, totaling $3,348,350,744, have been made in that state during the life of the Recovery program. In the filters at the top of the page, you can enter specific criteria to narrow your search.
Select the Education category, click “Go’’ on the right side of the page, and up pops the total funds awarded for education programs ($1,191,974,762), the total awards (794), and the number of jobs funded in the April-June 2012 quarter (277). If you are interested in details about a specific recipient, just click on the “profile’’ link and get the information you need.
I won’t belabor my point on the usability of this tool. Don’t take my word for it. Visit us at Recovery.gov, access the Recipient Projects Map, and decide for yourself.
– Michael Wood, Executive Director, Recovery Board