We hear and read a lot about the federal government stimulus money, but do we know what we’re really funding? And how much of the money is being spent in your local area? You can find out on ProPublica.com, which recently updated Recovery Tracker, the analysis of federal stimulus spending that it first posted this past summer.
As ProPublica’s editors explain:
“We’ve taken all the data used on the government’s stimulus Web site, Recovery.gov, cleaned out the cobwebs and added thousands of records the feds didn’t include – the law doesn’t require all recipients to report to Recovery.gov – to create the most comprehensive, publicly-available analysis of stimulus spending that we know of. Type in your county or click on your state to find local projects, and check out how per capita spending compares with poverty levels, income and unemployment in your area.”
In addition to Recovery Tracker, you’ll want to check out ProPublica’s Eye on the Stimulus blog, which has daily roundups of stimulus-related news as well as links to news about the stimulus from other sites. Take a look at the “Notices to Proceed” link to find out which states are getting stimulus projects off the ground fastest. You can also access a database of contractors that have received stimulus money (although so far, this only includes highway stimulus projects). The “Stimulus Progress Bar” shows what dollar amount and percentage of stimulus funds each federal agency has received and spent so far.
You’ll also want to visit the link to ProPublica’s FAQs for Recovery.gov, which is a useful guide to navigating the federal government’s own Web site about the stimulus.
Run by a former top editor from the Wall Street Journal, ProPublica is an independent, nonprofit newsroom that produces investigative journalism in the public interest. While its focus is on information that’s useful for reporters, the wealth of information here will also arm you with the knowledge to help you, if you’re seeking stimulus contracts or deciding which agencies are worth targeting. It’s also useful for finding prime contractors to approach for subcontracting opportunities.
If you think your local area isn’t getting its share of stimulus money, or isn’t using it wisely, there’s plenty of ammo here to become a “squeaky wheel” and make your opinions known to your local media and political leaders.
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About the Author: Rieva Lesonsky is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a content and consulting company that helps entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses. A nationally known speaker and authority on entrepreneurship, Rieva has been covering America ‘s entrepreneurs for nearly 30 years. Follow her on Twitter @Rieva and visit SmallBizDaily to read more of her insights on small business.