States and local government Web sites inform residents on use of stimulus funds
By July 15, local and state governments that will receive money from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) must submit their first round of quarterly reports detailing the projects on which the money will be spent. ARRA fund recipients also have to post the information online, and nearly every state already has set up a Web site to show the money coming in and what it’s being used for.
The Web sites address various aspects of the funding, from allowing residents to submit project ideas to explaining where the funds are going. With money already being allocated, many states are updating the sites every week. Oregon, for instance, is using Oregon.gov/recovery to promote its “The Oregon Way” approach to economic recovery. The site includes a county-by-county map with projected dollars to be received, with plans to add specific project information as it becomes available.
Local governments are doing the same. Madison, Wis.’s federal stimulus page compiles proposed projects divided by agency, as well as formula grants by amount and category. Residents also can watch Board of Estimates meetings for news on stimulus package developments. The New York Mayor’s Office of Operations is about to fully launch its NYC Stat Stimulus Tracker, which will provide start and end dates for construction projects and a map of initiatives divided by neighborhood.
Valerie Brown, president-elect of the Washington-based National Association of Counties, says the reporting requirements raise some questions, such as the definition of key terms like “project,” “activity” and “completion,” and the level of detail required. With the summer reporting deadline growing nearer, Danny Werfel, Office of Management and Budget deputy controller, has said the office will announce more complete guidelines in April.