As promised, the new stimulus bill offers a website to provide transparency for the new spending. One can only imagine what it might offer. It could be President-elect Obama truly fulfilling a promise made early in the campaign to start putting government online--or it could be a sham.
The site will be (supposedly) called www.recovery.gov but don't bother going to the site yet, because it is still "under construction".
Section 1201 of the 250+ page long document says:
"Each Federal agency shall publish on the website Recovery.gov (as established under section 1226 of this subtitle)â€“(1) a plan for using funds made available in this Act to the agency; and (2) all announcements for grant competitions, allocations of formula grants, and awards of competitive grants using those funds."
While this offers the potential for transparency, certain provisions in the stimulus present concern. The oversight Board--to be called the "Recovery Act Accountability and Transparency Board"--the plan suggests is all executive branch staff, giving the new Administration large control and little accountability. The bill provides privacy exemptions for proprietary information, which is good in principle, though one fears whether the various exemption provisions open bureaucratic loopholes.
Most frustratingly, the stimulus bill only calls for an "annual consolidated" report on spending activity. How that will work with a website, which was assumed would provide up-to date reporting and progress accounts, is unknown.