When the earmarks database was first launched on March 12, 2007, it provided aggregate data on the number and cost of earmarks for FY2005 appropriations, and was able to show this information by agency, office and account. Today’s update includes details on individual earmarks, the ability to view earmarks by State and a downloadable file so that the public can sort information in ways they find useful. However, the database is not designed, and cannot accurately be used, to identify the individual sponsors of congressional earmarks. Additionally, the recipient of an earmark identified in the database may not in all cases represent the ultimate beneficiary of the earmark.
I just downloaded the whole thing; it occurs to me that this would be good fodder for our Mashup Contest (we’re accepting entries until April 15…). Also, let me second Dana Chasin’s kind words about OMB:
It is fair to say that OMB has produced this database much more quickly than had been expected after missing the orginal March 12 deadline set out in its Janaury 25 memorandum. And the site is a completely comprehensive accounting of all 2005 earmarks (defined in Attachment B of the memorandum).
This is a remarkable achievement in terms of advancing government spending transparency and, worth noting, of OMB’s own initiative — no statute or Presidential order compelled them to produce this database.
UPDATE: And N.Z. Bear of Porkbusters fame is already playing around with the data. I wasn’t surprised that not yet available tops the list of earmark recipients, but seeing Boeing (2), Lockheed Martin (7) and Raytheon (9) in the top ten was a little surprising.
2nd UPDATE: Andy Roth of the Club for Growth has posted a downloadable form which matches each earmark’s geographical location to a member. Use it with caution–this is probably more valuable for seeing where the money is going than for determining which member is responsible (what–Senators don’t do earmarks??).