Out of Control Policy Blog

State Governments Fall Short on Stimulus Transparency

Despite calls by the Obama Administration for transparency in how stimulus money is spent, the vast majority fo states aren't living up the the commitment. A new report "Show Us the Stimulus" published by Good Jobs First in Washington, D.C. scores each state's stimulus tracking web site based on transparency--how much is spent, where, how many jobs are expected to be created, who is doing the work, and why kind of program is being funded.

According to the summary in the press release:

  • The paramount objective of the Recovery Act is job creation and retention. Yet only four states—Colorado, Maryland, Washington and West Virginia—currently provide any employment data for individual projects on their main ARRA site. Eighteen states do so in their highway reporting.
  • Most states do a good job of providing information on the categories of ARRA spending. Forty-two states display the data for broad categories (energy, housing, transportation, etc.), and 37 of these also provide details on specific programs.
  • Geographic breakdowns are less common than data on program areas. Eighteen states provide the information, and in only three cases (Maine, New Mexico and Virginia) does the website show the information both for each county individually and for all counties side-by-side for comparison purposes.
  • Very few states juxtapose the geographic distribution of stimulus spending with patterns of economic distress, such as county unemployment rates or foreclosure levels.
  • Apart from county dollar totals, state residents may be interested to know where individual ARRA projects such as the repaving of a road or repair of a school building are taking place. Eleven states provide project maps on their main ARRA website, while 30 provide maps of ARRA highway projects.
  • Only 10 states provide contractor names and dollar amounts on their ARRA website. The results are better in highway reporting, where 29 states have both contractor names and dollar figures.

The full 25 page report can be found here. The summary charts, breaking down the rankings by state, can be found here. Individual state web site links can be found here.

Samuel Staley is Research Fellow


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