If you’re one of the growing number of Americans skeptical about the “stimulus package” that is now weaving its way through the Senate, you should check out StimulusWatch.org. What is it? The site’s creators provide a great description:
StimulusWatch.org was built to to help the new administration keep its pledge and to hold public officials to account. We do this by allowing you, citizens around the country with local knowledge about the proposed projects in your city, to find, discuss and rate those projects.
That’s right, you can make your voice heard by finding project in your city or state, voting on them, and letting others know if you think those projects are good way to spend taxpayer money.
The site is built to help the Obama administration keep the promises it has made regarding the Stimulus Package and to fulfill the promise that President Obama outlined in his inaugural address:
The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works—whether it helps families find jobs at a decent wage, care they can afford, a retirement that is dignified. Where the answer is yes, we intend to move forward. Where the answer is no, programs will end. Those of us who manage the public’s dollars will be held to account—to spend wisely, reform bad habits, and do our business in the light of day—because only then can we restore the vital trust between a people and their government.
The most important part of that statement is “in the light of day.” StimulusWatch.org promises to help bring the projects into the light of day by making them part of a national conversation.
It’s important to note that the project listed on the site are not part of the bill being debated on Capitol Hill, but are the projects that the grants in the bill would most likely fund. The project list is taken from the U.S. Conference of Mayors’ report. Why? Again, let the site’s creators explain:
the Mayor’s report presented an opportunity for citizens to engage with their government. The U.S. Conference took the laudable step of posting online a complete, detailed, and well-formatted list of projects and related data. This made it easy for us to take the data and use it for the site you see here. These projects are also worth scrutinizing. To what extent do these projects reflect what citizens want or need for their communities? The list provides an opportunity for citizens to provide useful feedback to their elected officials. This discussion can help monitor funds and also rate the extent to which projects ‘hit their marks’.