Witness the majesty of the internet: Less than two months ago I blogged on this site about an idea to build a website to crowdsource the task of rating the slew of “shovel ready” projects proposed by localities. I asked for volunteers to help develop the site, and to my amazement, it worked. With the help of all-around heroes Peter Snyder and Kevin Dwyer, today we launch StimulusWatch.org.
Stimulus Watch looks at the 10,000+ projects listed in the U.S. Conference of Mayors’ “MainStreet Economic Recovery Report.” The mayors and local officials around the country have asked that these projects be funded with federal money. Here are some of the proposed projects of interest to readers of this blog:
- Wi-Fi related-projects
- Broadband-related projects
- Internet-related projects
- Surveillance-related projects
Once the stimulus bill passes, however, not every project will be funded. The agencies that administer the federal grant-making programs, which Congress will fund through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, will have to decide which of these projects to fund.
While these funding decisions are largely made by formula, the Obama administration has promised to be smart about which projects it funds with stimulus money. In his address on economic recovery on January 8, President Obama said:
We have to make tough choices and smart investments today so that as the economy recovers, the deficit starts to come down. We cannot have a solid recovery if our people and our businesses don’t have confidence that we’re getting our fiscal house in order. That’s why our goal is not to create a slew of new government programs, but a foundation for long-term economic growth. That also means an economic recovery plan that is free from earmarks and pet projects. I understand that every member of Congress has ideas on how to spend money. Many of these projects are worthy, and benefit local communities. But this emergency legislation must not be the vehicle for those aspirations. This must be a time when leaders in both parties put the urgent needs of our nation above our own narrow interests.
Stimulus Watch exist to help the President keep his pledge. Citizens around the country can judge for themselves the merits of the mayors’ proposed projects. Using this site they can voice their opinions and local knowledge of the projects letting everyone know which are worth an investment and which are not. Local government officials are also invited to join the conversation to give context for their requests.
We hope you enjoy the site, and we hope you will help us spread the word.