StimulusWatch.org

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StimulusWatch.org is set to launch today as a way to help the Obama administration keep its pledge and to hold public officials accountable on how they spend taxpayer dollars with the stimulus bill. The site encourages citizens around the country with local knowledge about the proposed “shovel-ready” projects in their city to find, discuss and rate those projects.

You can search projects, browse by locality or program type. Once you’ve found a project, they ask you to do three things: 1) vote on whether you believe the project is critical or not; 2) edit the project’s description and points in favor or against, and 3) post a comment in the conversation about the project.

The force behind StimulusWatch is Jerry Brito, a senior research fellow at George Mason University’s Mercatus Center. He developed the site with the help of volunteers. Jerry is also a principal at The Technology Liberation Front.

This is very well done. I strongly suggest you check it out.

Update: One of my far more knowledgeable colleagues played around on Stimulus Watch and found it, they thought, somewhat misleading and prone to gaming. For example, it only provides one word descriptions for the funding items — one is simply labeled “doorbells.” Without any context, the commentators are jumping all over such items, voting them down. One of my other colleagues says that the site has lots of holes in the information, e.g. no information from county governments, and nothing from, for example, Richmond, Virginia whose Mayor didn’t submit a list.

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  • latoya

    i noticed that alabama did not have my city/county listed but i’m not surprise sumter county never gets noticed but i think it is a shame that there are no jobs in sumter county and we have to drive an hour in a half just to work but when small towns need funds to not just big cities. i think sumter county should get their share of the stimulus money because we’re getting tire of driving all over the world for a income that basicially pays for the gas we use to get to work.

  • I notice immediately that Richie Daley had not shared his Chicago list–didn’t expect him to share because he is concerned about “negativity.”

    A very affluent suburb in IL is asking for a cool million for two bike paths. That’s the critical need to stimulate spending…? One can only guess what Chicago is asking.

  • Some of the information that lay people need to grasp the limited scope of the Stimulus Project data to projects in 779 cities is either buried in the FAQ (#9) or found only by clicking through to the underlying USCM report.

    It would only take a sentence to make the limited scope of the data immediately clear to users. The USCM report itself stresses that its surveys are not an “inventory” of projects, but “examples” from around the country from only 779 cities. Stimulus Watch could readily fit that distinction (and language) on its front page.

    Having this distinction highlighted for Stimulus Watch visitors would make the information more quickly understood by those who are casual researchers.

    While this point may seem picky, I think the designers failed to think through the needs of the lay reader who is coming to the site.

    Some visitors from Southern Minnesota, for example, have shared with me that they furious that no projects in that region are included in the database. As casual readers and researchers who are not used to checking “About” or clicking through to an original source or original report, they hastily concluded that their communities are being left out of the Recovery Act.

    The problem is easily avoided. Were the very limited nature of the dataset underscored at the beginning, they’d be less likely to jump to conclusions.

    This clarity could be achieved by a single sentence. How about it? Make the site itself a bit more transparent.

  • Independent

    “StimulusWatch.org is set to launch today as a way to help the Obama administration keep its pledge and to hold public officials accountable on how they spend taxpayer dollars with the stimulus bill.”

    What a crock- after 8 years of literally destroying this country under Bush’s watch and utter corruption and the destruction of our economy, NOW republicans decide to become thrifty. This site is yet another right wing JOKE.

    Where were these so called “patriots” when Bush never vetoed a bill passed by his desk by his right wing representatives? Where is the discussion and outrage over Bush’s massive spending that many a speculator wrote articles on saying he’s the biggest spender in history.. where were the watch sites then?

    Too funny, really.

  • Ruth C Uppena

    Dogparks should NOT be allowed consideration.
    Saving the Lake Superior from Kennecott Eagle mine –stop sulfide mining !!

  • Keith

    For example, do we taxpayers need or want to pay for a $500,000 Dog Park in Chula Vista, CA. ???????????? This a huge PORK BILL if there ever was one.

  • To clarify, Stimulus Watch has not edited the data.

    the project descriptions are what the Mayors submitted themselves, subsequently posted on their website. So any apparent errors or inadequate project descriptions should be checked against:

    http://www.usmayors.org/mainstreeteconomicrecovery/

    Some cities, like Richmond, did not yet submit requests (and may not submit at all).

  • Thanks for the post. We’re very happy with the way the site is working and we encourage you all to come take a look. I want to make sure to give special props to Peter Snyder and Kevin Dwyer, the developers who did all the heavy lifting coding the site and making it what it is. Hope you like it!