With many states struggling to close massive budget deficits, much of the stimulus money that has been allocated is still waiting to be spent, because of the complex and drawn-out approval process. http://money.cnn.com/2009/05/07/news/economy/state_budget_gaps/index.htm.
However, some companies and state governments are attempting to simplify this process and improve transparency:
Microsoft recently announced a program called Stimulus360. The new software will be integrated with Microsoft Office Excel and Outlook and use Microsoft's SharePoint collaboration software. It's designed to simplify the process by centralizing information, providing links for legislative and regulatory information as well as data, and mapping features to track stimulus-funded projects.
Arkansas has released a free iPhone application called "Arkansas.gov Recovery Project Search" that allows citizens to track the progress of stimulus funds in their state from their iPhone or iPod Touch. Users can search for projects by location or keywords and bookmark certain ones to keep tabs on the progress made.
Another company, Onvia, runs a Web site, http://www.Recovery.org , which aims to provide businesses with better access to pending stimulus projects. The site allows businesses and individuals to search by state, county or city and see what projects are being funded by stimulus dollars. It also features maps, data and graphs for each state.
And of course there is the federal government's own Web site, http://www.Recovery.gov, which is impressive, but contains an overwhelming amount of information. One resource that helps break it down is a map with links to each state's own stimulus Web sites http://www.recovery.gov/?q=content/state-recovery-page. Do you have any ideas on how the government, private sector, or you, the taxpayer could better track the task of distributing the stimulus money while ensuring it is done quickly yet appropriately? Leave us a comment - let us know what you think!
By Matt Gannon