Sunlight has compiled a list of House earmark requests--available here--for fiscal year 2010 which were disclosed this year for the first time under new rules, but scattered across hundreds of Web sites and in nearly unusable formats.
Sunshine.gop.gov, a new House Republican site, houses a machine-readable version of the database, but the site does not allow viewers to obtain all earmarks at a glance, instead forcing them to search for terms or browse a few at a time and making analysis impossible.
By writing a computer program to automatically access the site thousands of times, the ...Continue reading
Apps for America 2 runner-up USASpendingWatch.net is a visually appealing and ambitious take on the mounds of data on federal contracts at USASpending.gov. It aims to create an online community where readers can flag contracts they deem interesting or suspicious--though because the data provided by the government can be vague and misleading, participants in the best position to spot impropriety might be locals with their boots on the ground.
The site is easy to navigate and chock-full of information, but its designer's greatest obstacle may be one for which he can scarcely be faulted: The data sets being combined--the politics of local leaders and federally awarded, often competitive contracts--belie an incomplete understanding of the United States government; the author, Sven Regel, is German.Continue reading
Our friends at the Center for Responsive Politics today unveiled a new feature, long in the works, mashing up campaign contribution and lobbying data with fiscal year 2008 and 2009 earmark data compiled by Taxpayers for Common Sense.
Choose your representative or senators and view all earmarks sponsored. Where CRP or TCS has identified a beneficiary of the earmark, such as a municipality, university or defense contractor (indicated in bold, where identified), you can easily see contributions from that entity's political action committee and employees to the sponsoring lawmaker, as well as the amount of money the entity spent lobbying the federal government.Continue reading
To understand how maddeningly inaccurate data on USAspending.gov can be, one need look no further than the $333 million grant that was awarded last year to Dynamic Research Inc. of Torrance, Calif., by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
In fact, a Dynamic Research employee told us, the vehicle R-and-D firm is not expecting a third of a billion dollars from NHTSA. The grant is more like $1 million for research on advanced crash-avoidance technology. But the casual user of USAspending.gov, maintained by the Office of Management and Budget, would have no way of knowing this.
The problem ...Continue reading