In the short 30 days since the President signed the Recovery Act (aka Stimulus Bill) into law and Recovery.gov launched:
- 26 of 28 federal agencies currently handling stimulus dollars have launched websites at identical “/recovery” URLs (example: http://hhs.gov/recovery)
- 83 identically formatted .xls weekly reports were filed by agencies and are downloadable by reporting agency (generally 3 per agency)
- 42 states have launched their own recovery-related web sites with several adopting the “/recovery” meme (for example: http://www.maine.gov/recovery)
- 3,900 hits-per-second loads have been reported for Recovery.gov
These early stats suggest our federal government is headed for the Web 2.0 big leagues in tracking stimulus dollars. Even better, they suggest everyone else is fielding franchise teams and swinging for the fences. No doubt we are going to see a number of strike outs as different federal, state, and local authorities learn to communicate and play together using web-based protocols and practices. But we are also going to see some exciting home runs and grand slams, too.
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Recovery.gov—and OMB’s requirement that agencies use the web for accountability disclosure—has launched a regular web-based ecosystem of activity with a healthy opportunity for competition and transparency one-upsmanship. This kind of activity has the look and feel of a virtuous cycle of innovation that we’ve see before on the web are seeing again, for example, with twitter and it’s spin offs or the explosion of activity in the iPhone’s App Store). Here are a few more data points:
- HUD’s Transparency and Accountability guidelines require grantees and first tier sub-awardees to have a DUNS number and to register with CCR (aka the Federal Central Contractors Registration). In other words, agencies are forcing automation requirements down their respective information supply chains in order to meet OMB’s digital reporting requirements.
- Both an official Stimulus.Virginia.gov and a third-party VirginiaStimulus.org stimulus sites are live.
- Erik Wilde, Eric Kansa, and Raymond Yee, three people at UC Berkeley’s school of Information took it upon themselves, to organize simulated data, web pages, data feeds, and highly technical implementation guide that goes beyond OMB’s guidance. “We are already in communication with several agency officials and data architects at OMB,” they happily announce in a post to Sunlight Foundation’s Open House Project email group seeking more feedback.
- Maryland’s incredibly slick, interactive map recovery projects is built with the very cutting edge Adobe Flex technology.
So, when I finally started to explore the Recovery sites, I grew fond of the incompleteness found in OMB’s 62 page detailed guidance memo to agencies. Inside the typical Washington-ese of the memo was a basic message that came from the Recovery Act and OMB amplified. That message was: “Use the Web, stupid.” Stating this in 2009 is very different that stating in 2004 or even 2006 (when Sunlight Foundation launched). In the post-USASpending.gov, post Obama-campaign 2009 world, all the young professionals grew up on the web. The web-requirements of the Obama administration and it’s new, back-on-the-job CIO Vivek Kundra (a 30-something year old himself) essentially unleashed the web talent inside government agencies that had been shackled by the chains of the way things were always done. Voilà! In 30 days since the Act became law, more than 70 government web “sites” have been launched. (And a lot of non-government recovery sites, too, which I’m not mentioning). Where do we ever see things happen that quickly…except on the web?