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Revamped Digs Up Projects in Your Hood

BY Nancy Scola | Monday, September 28 2009

A brand-new went live this morning. The site, part of the controversial $18 million contract awarded to Smartronix this summer, is something of an empty shell until the people and organizations who actually took in some of the $787 billion in federal spending (what an awed Recovery Act Transparency and Accountability Board chair Earl Devaney describes, in a way that isn't really all that reassuring, "a phenomenal amount of money") have to report back in on their projects. That due date on that first-round of quarterly reporting is this Thursday, October 1st.

In the meantime, this new iteration of the site does offer one improvement over version 1: the ability to search by zip code for stimulus funded projects in your own neighborhood. A search in my hood, for example, turned up funding going to several health centers, a yeshiva, a teen filmmaking program, a botanic garden, and more. That said, the new tool is more interesting for curious citizens than it is useful for watchdogs. Without reporting details, the localized search is able to provide little insight into the project beyond who got the money and how much they got.

Today's new site also features a Data Download Center. More on whether data geeks' demands are met by this new site after they've gotten a chance to kick its tires.