Stimulus bill requires RSS feeds of how the money is spent

Discuss

20 Responses to “Stimulus bill requires RSS feeds of how the money is spent”

  1. Anonymous says:

    For anyone familiar with the terminology of federal grants and cooperative agreements, its plain that the ‘requirements’ of Recovery.gov reporting as outlined in the guidance and the architecture document aren’t really anything that new.

    Further, this so-called transparency won’t materialize as the level of detail required for this “transparent” reporting is SOOOO high level as to be almost meaningless.

    So basically, you’ll learn that California is receiving $30 million improve immunizations and add some jobs if possible, but you won’t have any clue about the details that get you to the $30 million.

    The current requirements aren’t a step towards anything but an organized list of government spending at a very high level.

    - Someone tasked to “track” the stimulus money

  2. Takuan says:

    at 2:18, US$1,200,000,000.00
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_ZCp5h1gK2Q

    poof!

  3. Notary Sojac says:

    OK, lots of time and some good tech resources to carefully review how the money’s being spent, after the bill has become law.

    As compared to…less than twenty hours to review a non-searchable copy of this 1000+ page document, BEFORE it’s put up for a vote.

    I suppose there’s still a slim chance that the majority of BB posters are capable of sensing a disconnect here.

  4. Notary Sojac says:

    Wolfiesma:

    By all means, let’s add to the deficit burden of our children and grandchildren so that we don’t have to spend our own money locally on a little paint and potting soil.

    The deficit hawks in both parties have been stuffed and mounted – some on George W. Bush’s office wall and some on Barack Obama’s. It’s an extinct species we are going to regret exterminating.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Any step toward transparency is helpful–if info given turns out to be false, at least someone can be embarrassed by it, if not prosecuted. The next challenge is to get someone who knows what they’re doing to actually read it all.
    I think we can count on the Republicans to scrutinize Dem expenditures; not so sure whether it’ll be reciprocal.
    (Note: The same IT the gummint is using to mine all our e-mails, etc. for items of interest can theoretically be used by us plebes to monitor our fearless leaders–otherwise, impt. info could easily be buried in mountains of less useful data.)

  6. VVelox says:

    This is a sick fragging joke.

    Any thing other than XML, CSV, or etc for a periodically updated report is a farce of transparency.

  7. zuzu says:

    I see that the government bought an $800 toilet seat and a $500 hammer.

    Now what can I do about it?

    Likewise, the German government also publishes a business subsidies report, but according to Alfred Boss researching for the Institute for the World Economy, the reports merely mask a corporate welfare scheme.

  8. Takuan says:

    all this does is make thieves buy thesauruses.

  9. Sethum says:

    Mask a corporate welfare scheme? The stimulus bill is explicitly supposed to provide welfare for corporations in order to spur industry growth. Now, an $800 toilet seat and a $500 hammer is just corruption so that friends of those in power can in the greedy self-profiteering.

    I would love to see over-priced purchases show up on these reports. That level of transparency is more than we’ve had access to thus far, and is sufficient for the public/media to make a stink and get some of those responsible sacked. We just have to hope that corrupt officials aren’t more clever at laundering their kickbacks than simply listing overpriced equipment in their accounting books.

  10. Sethum says:

    Hey, I’m not necessarily supporting dumping money on corporations that can’t manage themselves, I’m just stating its purpose. The benefit of better transparency is that it allows the public to better judge government actions and, if sufficiently incensed, to do something about it. Even the federal government isn’t immune to a facebook-style reaction if there is enough drive behind it.

    As far as I’m concerned the more transparency – the better. So what if the behavior hasn’t improved yet. As long as there are people like us who care about how officials behave, and we have easy access to monitor them, then things will tend to get better.

  11. Mousewrites says:

    “I see that the government bought an $800 toilet seat and a $500 hammer.”

    And yet, we developed the stealth bomber for almost free… on paper. Stuff like 500$ hammers aren’t entirely people lining their pockets, though that does happen, I’m sure. It’s very informative to look at what is being spent where, and during the cold war, someone would have noticed a ‘Project X – 500 million dollars’ line item on a budget somewhere. So they defuse the cost in many other things, such as ‘janitorial supplies, – 10,000$’ which, when broken down, means that toilet seat cost 800$.

    The government does a lot of sneaky stuff. yes, there are stupid rules in place, and they often pay more than they should for things due to random contracts, but a lot of that stuff is to buy OTHER stuff they don’t want anybody to know about.

    More on topic: I like the concept that the administration is at least trying to be modern. They could have called for a weekly broadsheet of expenditures to be printed in the newspaper, instead. I like the RSS option.

  12. zuzu says:

    As far as I’m concerned the more transparency – the better.

    In principle, I am as well. My concern is as Mousewrite said,

    And yet, we developed the stealth bomber for almost free… on paper. Stuff like 500$ hammers aren’t entirely people lining their pockets, though that does happen, I’m sure. It’s very informative to look at what is being spent where, and during the cold war, someone would have noticed a ‘Project X – 500 million dollars’ line item on a budget somewhere. So they defuse the cost in many other things, such as ‘janitorial supplies, – 10,000$’ which, when broken down, means that toilet seat cost 800$.

    If this “transparency” is just a smoke-screen to subdue popular demand for transparency, well, that’s practically worse: not only is there no real transparency but people would also no longer demand it. People stop searching for things they think they’ve already found.

    Distraction and misdirection: the tools of the trade for magicians and con-men.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Funny enough, recovery.gov doesn’t have an RSS feed.

    There is a pirate RSS feed that will follow it until it has its own. http://feeds2.feedburner.com/RecoverygovAnnouncements

  14. Eadwacer says:

    WRT that $600 toilet seat. Wikipedia has an interesting item on it, both in the In The News section of the main article:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toilet_seat

    and in WikiTalk:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talk:Toilet_seat

    It wasn’t corruption, and it wasn’t hiding costs, it was following Congressionally mandated procedures, with unintended consequences. Think of it in terms of reopening a production line that’s been closed for years, building fifty items, shutting down the line, and then allocating all the costs across each of the 50 items.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Atom and RSS are XML. Additionally there are detailed field specification requirements including totals, not overly burdensome, but it looks good and well-thought-through. I can’t believe they included data types in the spec. int(12) for tracking Total Expenditures (I guess no cents).:). it will be fascinating to see what happens:
    http://www.recovery.gov/files/Initial%20Recovery%20Act%20Implementing%20Guidance.pdf

    This is a pretty awesome experiment, and it’s an awesome step towards transparency. Hopefully this will put social pressure on government to be more honest since a lot of people can watch the data.

  16. zuzu says:

    all this does is make thieves buy thesauruses.

    c.f. Bill Hicks on “machine tools” and “farming equipment”

  17. netsharc says:

    I suppose a good thing abouth these requirements is that it will keep the IT industry occupied (i.e. “jobbed”), I wonder how many people running those agencies know what RSS is. It also seems to want the agencies to post weekly blog posts telling the people what they’ve done that week, so I wonder which blog-engine they’ll all use. And how paranoid the developers will be when they realize one hole in their programming will expose a lot of govt websites to hacks…

  18. wolfiesma says:

    I’d like to see more money available for small community groups in the form of grants. Wouldn’t it be cool if people could apply for money to start little community schools, community gardens? Infrastructure goes way beyond new roads. It shouldn’t be just the road makers that get the money. Let’s put the money toward beautifying the streets with trees and small parks and all-in-all make the community more livable and walkable.

    Painting murals, building skate parks, theater in the park, public gardens, public green spaces. Covered bus stops, bike lanes, sidewalks. I’d like a grant to install about 20 trees along the back edge of a autobody shop to catch some of the pollutants. Grants for diesel truck companies to upgrade their catalytic converter thingies so fewer particulates get spewed in the air. We need more money for superfund type projects.

    I just hope there is a way for the public to directly apply for some of this money to improve their own communities. That’s all.

Leave a Reply