WARNING: You're looking at a page from the old site. We have relaunched with live stimulus data. Learn more here.
Thanks to the tireless work of developer Peter Snyder, Stimulus Watch 2.0 now has an advanced search capability that will…
Jerry Brito on Washington DC’s Federal News Radio discussing the new features available on Stimulus Watch 2.0.
Welcome to Stimulus Watch 2.0. While our original site featured proposed stimulus projects taken from the U.S. Conference of Mayors…
Find government regulations by issue or agency. Comment, add links and subscribe to regulations.
"The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works—whether it helps families find jobs at a decent wage, care they can afford, a retirement that is dignified. Where the answer is yes, we intend to move forward. Where the answer is no, programs will end. Those of us who manage the public's dollars will be held to account—to spend wisely, reform bad habits, and do our business in the light of day—because only then can we restore the vital trust between a people and their government."
Congress and the President are getting ready to spend billions of dollars to try to stimulate the economy. As a result, the U.S. Conference of Mayors has responded by releasing a list of "shovel-ready" projects in cities around the country that the mayors would like to see funded. President Obama, however, has promised to spend stimulus dollars only on critical projects.
"What we need to do is examine what are the projects where we're going to get the most bang for the buck [and] how are we going to make sure taxpayers are protected," he has said. "You know, the days of just pork coming out of Congress as a strategy, those days are over."
StimulusWatch.org was built to to help the new administration keep its pledge and to hold public officials to account. We do this by allowing you, citizens around the country with local knowledge about the proposed projects in your city, to find, discuss and rate those projects.
First and foremost, the Mayor's report presented an opportunity for citizens to engage with their government. The U.S. Conference took the laudable step of posting online a complete, detailed, and well-formatted list of projects and related data. This made it easy for us to take the data and use it for the site you see here. These projects are also worth scrutinizing. To what extent do these projects reflect what citizens want or need for their communities? The list provides an opportunity for citizens to provide useful feedback to their elected officials. This discussion can help monitor funds and also rate the extent to which projects 'hit their marks'.
The Obama White House has begun taking the first steps to keep its promise to be the most transparent and accountable administration in history. However, it has yet to provide the type of interactive accountability tool you see here. Because legislative and executive activity on stimulus spending is moving so quickly, we feel its important to help jump-start citizen participation as soon as possible.
Additionally, this site is interactive in a way we don't expect to see in federal government sites. First, we are trying to gather knowledge from you about the worthiness of local projects before they are funded. Second, after a project has been funded we would like to continue to harness local knowledge about how the funds were spent and the project managed in order to keep local officials accountable. To date, no federal site does this.
It is expected that the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act will be signed by the President on February 16. That legislation won't list the projects to be funded. Instead, it will appropriate money for federal grant programs, such as the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) or Surface Transportation Program, which will then use the appropriated stimulus money to make grants to cities. In the case of CDBG, for example, the Department of Housing and Urban Development will be the agency that will decide (using a formula) which of the projects requested by the mayors will be funded.
That said, the funding Congress approves for these programs, and thus how much money cities will actually receive for their projects, may exceed or fall short of the mayors' suggestions. This means that not every project requested by the mayors will be funded. And that is why it's important for citizens to register their opinions on which projects they believe are critical and which are not. By the same token, it is also likely that many projects not yet proposed by localities (and thus not listed on this site) will receive funding via federal programs.
The Mayors Report lists ten "sectors" in need of federal funds. These sectors are federal funding streams — government programs designed to award money to the states for a variety of infrastructure-related uses. They are:
On an individual project page there are three things you can do:
How you vote on a project is completely up to you. Comments are there for free-wheeling discussion about the project and you can express any opinion you'd like there. However, there are some ground rules for the wiki portion of each page.
The wiki section exists so that citizens with knowledge of the project can describe the project and place it in context. Therefore, the wiki description should be comprised of only factual assertions and be written in what Wikipedia has called a neutral point of view style. A great tutorial on neutral POV writing is available from Wikipedia.
That said, apart from a general description section on the wiki, we provide a section for "points in favor" and "points against." This is not a place to write opinions; that's what the comments are for. Instead it's a place to safely place factual assertions that tend to support one side or the other more strongly.
These rules may make it sound scary to edit the wiki, but don't worry. Anyone can edit the wiki and we encourage you to do so. There's no wrong way to do it, and anything you do can be easily reverted to a previous state. For a quick intro on how to edit a wiki page, see the Wikimedia editing guide.
On each individual project page users can vote on whether in their estimation the project is critical or not. On the project page we show the results, including the number of votes cast and the percentage of votes on each side. We further rank all projects based on the vote ratio they've received. For example, 10 votes in favor and 15 against will give a project a vote ratio score of -5.
The project titles displayed on this site are taken directly from the U.S. Conference of Mayors' MainStreet Economic Recovery Report from which we get our data. Some of the titles are very descriptive, while others are only one or two words long. Unfortunately, we can only display the information we have.
That said, the very point of this site is to allow citizens to provide context for projects. We hope someone with local knowledge of a project that doesn't have a very descriptive title can fill in the details in the project wiki. We also invite local government officials responsible for the project to provide those details. You can see an example of a citizen using the wiki to clarify a project's misleading title on the project page for a "Downtown Quiet Zone" in San Diego, California.
The data on this site comes from the U.S. Conference of Mayors' MainStreet Economic Recovery Report. If a city did not include its "shovel-ready" projects on that list, you won't find it here. However, this does not mean that cities that are not included here do not have projects they'd like to see funded. Once the stimulus bill passes, cites will make requests for federal grants, and we will likely see grants to projects not listed on this site.
That's a good question. One would think that it would be easy to find worthy as well as less-than-efficient projects that way. Unfortunately, the data we have don't tell us how long the projects last, so it is impossible for us to list an accurate cost per job figure.
What this means, for example, is that some projects may quote a cost for a year's budget, while other projects may be for five years. So, a $1 million project that creates 5 jobs for a year is nominally the same thing as a $1 million project that creates 1 job for five years. Therefore, simply dividing a project's number of jobs created into its cost figure will not produce any meaningful data, and that is why we don't provide it. We encourage you, though, to provide factual (and hopefully sourced) cost per job information in the wiki if you have it.
Sure thing! You can grab it here as an Excel file.
This site was built by volunteers and is not affiliated with any group or organization.
The project was started by Jerry Brito after Eileen Norcross pointed out to him the opportunity the mayor's report presented. Jerry herded cats on the project and contributed the graphic design. The development of the site was lead by Peter Snyder, who coded the site in PHP and MySQL and implemented the MediaWiki integration. Peter was assisted by Kevin Dwyer, who helped scrape and format the report data.
Its creators are:
Jerry Brito, senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University. His research has focused on government transparency and accountability, specifically how the internet can be harnessed to crowdsource the task of keeping officials accountable. You can read his paper on the subject, "Hack, Mash, and Peer: Crowdsourcing Government Transparency," (PDF) pubilshed by the Columbia Science & Technology Law Review. His personal site is jerrybrito.org.
Kevin Dwyer, Senior Computer Scientist at White Oak Technologies, Free Software contributor, and GNU/Linux zealot. Also a Pythonista, Kevin writes about the science of computers and beer at http://squareone.pheared.net.
Eileen Norcross, senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University. Her research has focused on state and local budgets, economic development, and the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program. For more information, you can read her paper, "The Community Development Block Grant: Does it Work?"
Peter Snyder, contract programming. He specializes in Web 2.0 projects and Cocoa programming in Chicago, IL. He can be contacted about projects at firstname.lastname@example.org, or at his website www.peteresnyder.com. You can read his daily thoughts at snyderp.tumblr.com.
Again, this is an independent website that is not affiliated or connected to any organization including the developers' employers.