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Stimulus Transparency: A Pipe Dream?

by Katie Leo 


Tags: Media, New Media, stimulus tracking, ProPublica,

Concerned taxpayers might wonder how and where our money is being dispersed via the Obama stimulus package, especially considering that the Bush stimulus of last year seems to have evaporated into the ether with no accountability. Investigative journalism nonprofit ProPublica tracks the stimulus evolution in detail, focusing on Obama’s transparency pledge. 

In a recent report, Michael Grabell explores the myriad challenges facing Obama's promise, including who gets to spend the money and how it gets monitored. As an example, Grabell examines the ill-fated Xanadu project in New Jersey, a multi-million dollar entertainment complex that has been mired in delays due to increased costs and allegations of corruption. The same regional authority in charge of Xanadu will oversee another “shovel-ready” project under the Obama stimulus—a $9 billion rail tunnel under the Hudson River. Can the new Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board (“RAT” as some call it) prevent another debacle like Xanadu?

As money flows through the states, some of it will go to local and regional organizations that operate with little oversight. Additionally, the stimulus plan’s wide reach, which touches everything from public housing to space exploration, invites a certain amount of abuse as its sheer size increases opportunities for corruption.

ProPublica and its partner ShovelWatch will be an ongoing source for following stimulus spending. Its web space includes a regularly updated chart that tracks individual state transparency websites and a projects list released by state and federal agencies.

Source: ProPublica