WASHINGTON, DC – Members of Congress know where the money is going: now citizens can, too. The Sunlight Foundation today released a Google Earth application that plots the locations for almost 1,500 earmarks in the House Defense Appropriations bill. This graphic illustration of defense earmarks gives anyone with an Internet connection a bird’s eye view of exactly where Congress is directing federal spending – and the ability to investigate whether the earmarks address pressing needs, favor political contributors or are simply pure pork.
To start navigating earmarks, download Google Earth and then download Sunlight's House Defense file. This presents a 3-D view of where the recipients of earmarks in the House Defense appropriations bill are located and corresponding links to EarmarkWatch.org –where citizens can further research each earmark and its recipient. Users can search for earmarks by city, state or zip code.
"Navigating earmarks on Google Earth is much more compelling and user-friendly than reviewing a list of earmarks or a spreadsheet," said Ellen Miller, executive director of the Sunlight Foundation. "Americans who are concerned about government spending and the upsurge in member use of earmarks now have a simple way to visualize and investigate how Congress is awarding defense-related federal funds."
Drawing on data from its EarmarkWatch.org site (created in collaboration with Taxpayers for Common Sense), this application lets citizens easily find and scrutinize House Defense earmarks on a state or district level. Sunlight created this Google Earth application to demonstrate the power of posting information online in graphically appealing ways that makes data more easily understood.
The Sunlight Foundation supports, develops and deploys new Internet technologies to make information about Congress and the federal government more accessible to the American people. Through its projects and grant-making, Sunlight serves as a catalyst to create greater political transparency and to foster more openness and accountability in government.