Have You Visited Recovery.gov Lately?

By Justin Gardner | Related entries in Technology, Transparency

I hadn’t, but when I did…wow.

First, right there on the front page you have a map that details the total dollars announced, available and spent on the both the national and state levels (when you mouse over each graph or state).



But the most impressive feature by far is when you enter in your zip code and find out where the recovery dollars are going in your area.

Upon doing so, this prompt pops up and tells you where the data is coming from…



Then, the dollars spent are geolocated to specific businesses, not for profits, etc., and they’re clickable so you can see see how money is being given out and what it’s going for.

Here, the part circled in red details the amount in contracts, grants and loans that has been spent in the 64105 area code. The part circled in blue is the information that pops up after you click on a dot on the map.



And if you want even more info about how the money was spent, you can click on another link to pop open a new window that will give you all the details.

This is really unprecedented access to see how our tax dollars are being spent and I hope that we mandate that all big spending bills carry this level of transparency in the future.

Thoughts?


This entry was posted on Tuesday, October 6th, 2009 and is filed under Technology, Transparency. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

24 Responses to “Have You Visited Recovery.gov Lately?”

  1. MikeTheActuary Says:

    I think I was happier not knowing just how many thousands of dollars worth of grants are going to a local cosmetology school.

  2. the Word Says:

    Mike-
    A job that can’t be exported with training that gets people in the workforce quickly. I can’t see what’s to hate there.

  3. kranky kritter Says:

    Word, you would have us believe that the current supply of cosmetologists is insufficient?

    What percent of the folks who go to cosmetology school do you think go on to successful rewarding careers? New nail salons open and close like daylilies across the country.Someone sacrifices to go to school. Then with low interest rates they get a loan to open a business which quickly fails, Probably some smart banker expected failure and only granted the loan with a co-sign or collateral.

    Creating hope is nice. unless it’s just temporary, in which case its actually cruel. I live in a blue collar city and I see nail salons open here and there and they almost invariably close pretty quickly. When i see a new one open it makes me feel sad to think that there’s like a 90% probability of crushed dreams.

  4. JMG Says:

    Kranky-

    That was an incredible amount of conjecture from, what I can see, a two sentence comment, and your understanding of the nail salon business.

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  6. kranky kritter Says:

    Yes, it was conjecture. What’s your point?

  7. kranky kritter Says:

    BTW Justin, I think this site you highlight is a really useful idea. It does help folks see where the money is going, and that’s worthwhile information to share.

    Not a penny for my town, BTW. Oh, well.

  8. rob Says:

    That’s a lot to absorb.

  9. Mike A. Says:

    KK: I’m not sure I understand your point.

    “What percent of the folks who go to cosmetology school do you think go on to successful rewarding careers? ”
    Personally I know of an ex-coworker who owns a nail salon, and her career is highly lucrative. She left a well-paying, stable corporate (non-degreed) job to focus on the salon. I have a friend who sold beauty products and retired wealthy by age 50. Alternately I know engineers with advanced degrees who cannot find work. I know you understand this, but it bears stating: college does not guarantee rewards, particularly in today’s corporate reduction in force/slash and burn mentality in order to maintain quarterly profits.

    “New nail salons open and close like daylilies across the country.”
    It’s called capitalism. So do many other service businesses. In fact, so do many high tech startups. It’s not limited to the service industry and to non-degreed entrepeneurs. Many try and some succeed. Those that fail, may change course or try again.

    “Probably some smart banker expected failure and only granted the loan with a co-sign or collateral.” Don’t you think that most college admissions offices understand there are some degrees that will never pay for themselves? Still their more than happy to see students to burn through their parents’ life-savings, work 2 to 3 jobs and/or go into debt far greater than that of opening a nail salon. Is that so different than the smart banker?

    There are many people out there who either cannot afford college, or do not have the aptitude to be successful there. They want to try, but the banks are not lending. Their “false” hope is the only hope they have.

    Small businesses are a critical component of our economy and may be important in a recovery. If someone can make a good business case and their credit history is sound – I am all for lending taxpayer money to them to jump start the economy.

  10. Mike A. Says:

    Not a penny for mine either!
    I take back my last post defending the spending.

  11. John Burke Says:

    You’re right, it is cool — and encouraging that the feds have managed to put this info online in easily accessible format.

    Alas, my zip code has zero — nada, nichts, zilch — dough in or coming in, but I’m not complaining, yet.

    Incidentally, cosmetology or beauty schools — and other commercially operated business and trade schools — have long been heavily supported by government money, mostly through tuition grants and loans. Naturally, the companies running these operations have sizable lobbying at state and federal levels to make sure the money keeps flowing. On the whole, it’s not a bad investment, compared, say, to a lot of community colleges, althought some schools have been hit by a variety of charges of deception, failure to help place grdauates, and the like.

  12. gerryf Says:

    Not a penny in my zip code–but more than 20 grants, loans and contracts in surrounding zip codes to the tune of about $12.5 million (including, about $70,000 in grants to a cosmetology school).

    And I think that’s great. Maybe none of them create a successful hair or nail salon. But most of them will have a job.

    Frankly, I find it appalling anyone would belittle someone who is trying to get some training to earn even a basic living. Not everyone has the gifts a lot of posters here have. Not everyone has the ability or money to get a professional degree or start the next high tech firm.

    Here’s the truth, ignore it if you like, but anyone who lives in blue collar town knows there are a lot of people who just aren’t suited for some kinds of jobs. Maybe they lack the intelligence, the motivation, or the meanness to step on people on their way up the ladder.

    Or maybe, they plan on working their way through a university degree and law school by getting quick training as a hair stylist.

    None of you knows.

    And even if all they will ever be is a “lowly hairstylist” or “failed nail salon entrepreneur,” it is disgusting how some of you look down your nose at them.

    A lot of these people once had the promise of a manufacturing job that made enough to earn a living before the capitalists and financiers rigged the system and began exporting everything to foreign countries.

    And now, you begrudge them a chance at a low paying service sector job that is better than nothing at all?

    Shameful.

  13. Jimmy the Dhimmi Says:

    They should call this website, “Inflationcreation.gov”

  14. mike mcEachran Says:

    Super cool. I live in midtown Manhattan – we are speckled with grants all over my neighborhood. Several small theatre companies, the Alvin Aliley Dance school, medical clinics for the poor, educational institutions, Dr.’s offices. It’s a liberal orgy of egregious artsy fartsy gov’t panhandling! :P

  15. JMG Says:

    The inflation rate is negative, and has been since march.

  16. Nick Benjamin Says:

    My zipcode didn’t get anything directly. But apparently GM got a $93 million contract out of it, and their HQ is a few miles from my House.

  17. Jimmy the Dhimmi Says:

    The inflation rate is negative, and has been since march.

    Just wait.

    That is how inflation works. Remember the “deflationary spiral” of 2001-2002? Now remember record food and gas prices of 2005-2006? This time you won’t have to wait as long. Interest rates are lower, our deficits are bigger, and there is massive “quantitative easing” (read, printing money) that didn’t exist back then. It seems the rest of the world is getting the message, as our currency is already trading lower than it did during those past inflationary years, and oil producing nations are discussing dumping the dollar as the global standard. Gold just broke its all-time high against the dollar yesterday.

    Saying that we don’t have to worry about inflation now is like telling a smoker he smoke more cigarettes because he doesn’t have cancer yet.

  18. gerryf Says:

    Inflation fear-mongering again, Jimmy?

    We’ve gone over this before–while we should certainly be wary of inflation, the current economic client doesn’t promise it.

    Debt-to-GDP ratios while higher than most would like are not at historical highs. And while the Fed has guaranteed money to the banks, the banks are sitting on it, not loaning it out. Finally, the massive unemployment rate ensures we won’t see any of that money flooding the market any time soon.

    If you’re sincere in your belief, relax. Have a soda. If you are simply joining in the right wing smoke-screen as another attempt to derail the Obama administration’s efforts to get things back on track then don’t relax, give it a rest.

  19. kranky kritter Says:

    And even if all they will ever be is a “lowly hairstylist” or “failed nail salon entrepreneur,” it is disgusting how some of you look down your nose at them.

    A lot of these people once had the promise of a manufacturing job that made enough to earn a living before the capitalists and financiers rigged the system and began exporting everything to foreign countries.

    And now, you begrudge them a chance at a low paying service sector job that is better than nothing at all?

    Shameful.

    Thanks for interpreting my comments in the most unfavorable light possible. Gerry. You’re a great dancer.

    I’m not looking down my nose at anybody. My concern is directly focused at the likelihood than any given training actually leads to gainful sustainable employment.

    In the abstract, I am a big supporter of job re-training. Helping people acquire skills is indeed a high-minded enterprise. Cheerfully granted.

    And as you point out, something is better than nothing. At the same time, I am not so naive as to think that helping people to acquire skills is the same thing as actually creating a job. Since I’m currently unemployed, I have had the pleasure of both watching daytime television and looking for work. Much of what I see leads me to believe that the best interests of unskilled workers are often secondary concerns.

    For one, I’ve reviewed multiple job descriptions for enrollment personnel etc, and its quite clear they are looking for salesmen. If an enrollment person gets a call from an interested person, their job is get that person’s money to go to the school. The job descriptions make this as plain as day.

    Daytime television? Loaded with schemes and unrealistic expectations.

    “New nail salons open and close like daylilies across the country.”
    It’s called capitalism.

    Clever! And true. Still, if you have studied something like economic geography, then you know that objective and available statistics concerning threshold populations predict pretty accurately how many nail salons an area can sustain, how many jobs, and so on. I never claimed that no nail salon can succeed. But the current relationship between the supply of nail salons and the demand for them isn’t especially promising unless I am reading things wrong. Maybe I am, happy to acknowledge that. But I would be very surprised to find that this is currently a promising growth industry in terms of the number of nails filed.

    I know you understand this, but it bears stating: college does not guarantee rewards, particularly in today’s corporate reduction in force/slash and burn mentality in order to maintain quarterly profits.

    Totally agreed Mike, and I couldn’t agree more about the worth of stating it. You’ll get no argument from me by implying that perhaps we need to seriously question the nature of post high-school education. In fact, just recently my mind wandered across the idea of colleges that would switch their focus from a core curriculum of liberal arts to a core curriculum of 21st century skills.

    Imagine a student who graduates from college with a bulletproof understanding and legitimate master proficiency at word processing, sophisticated spreadsheets, database usage, team communication, work ethics, computer drafting, data mining, research methods, and technical troubleshooting. I’m not talking about cursory tourism when you learn a few basics, I’m talking about students who can use modern computer tools to really dig in from day one.

    Now imagine this is a 2 or 3-year school that costs a lot less and basically ignores or condenses the core liberal art curriculum. This makes a ton of sense to me.

  20. gerryf Says:

    Thanks for interpreting my comments in the most unfavorable light possible.

    Ahh, so there was a favorable light to what you were saying….sorry, I missed it. I will re-read what you wrote and try to find it buried beneath the sarcasm and lack of empathy.

  21. JMG Says:

    Jim,

    where to begin? First, your predictions are based on a ceteris paribus assumption of money supply, and you’re grossly oversimplifying the relationships between commodity and money markets, both domestic and international. Furthermore, the basic point the ‘we can’t spend money now, and head off impending depression, because of the inflationary issues that might present itself 5 years from now,’ is pretty weak tea.

    To elaborate the analogy: Treat the gunshot wound, THEN worry about the smoking habit.

  22. gerryf Says:

    ….your predictions are based on a ceteris paribus assumption ….

    I understand that can be cured with a shot of penicillin…..

  23. Mike A. Says:

    KK: “In fact, just recently my mind wandered across the idea of colleges that would switch their focus from a core curriculum of liberal arts to a core curriculum of 21st century skills.”

    There’s a lot of discussion in the halls of progressive academia about doing just this…but the current school system is so entrenched it will require a near-collapse before it would ever be entertained. Too many people making too much money. Kinda like our financial and insurance systems.

    I do agree with your comment, and fortunately there is a way to achieve some of the objectives: parentling.

  24. Mike A. Says:

    Oops…”parenting”

    (guess there may not be hope for my kids)

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