You’ve heard and read about the “shovel-ready” projects, and about the mayors’ list of projects ready and waiting for funds. I’m sure that all the media hype has caused you to wonder what these projects are and whether or not they’ll contribute to the future growth of the country. And you should be concerned. It’s your money.
You are not alone; there are others who share this concern with you. A couple of sharp individuals put together a website to monitor the Stimulus Package projects called StimulusWatch.org. This is not a typical go-to-the-site-and-read type of project. It is interactive and asks for your participation.
StimulusWatch.org was built to help the new administration keep its pledge to invest stimulus money smartly, and to hold public officials accountable for the taxpayer money they spend. StimulusWatch does this by allowing citizens around the country with local knowledge about the proposed “shovel-ready” projects in their city, to find, discuss and rate those projects. These projects are not part of the stimulus bill. They are candidates for funding by federal grant programs now that the bill has passed.
You can contribute by finding a project that interests you, or about which you have special knowledge, and letting the site managers know what you think. You can find projects by searching or by browsing by locality or program type. Once you find a program, there are three things you can do: 1) vote on whether you believe the project is critical or not; 2) edit the project’s description and points in favor or against, and 3) post a comment in the conversation about the project.
On the Stimulus Watch by state page you can view listings of all 50 states and the number of “shovel-ready” projects listed for each state. The information for the projects in each state starts with a description of the project and is followed by the city, state, number of jobs, cost, program type and ends with the vote ratio. This is all explained in a five-minute video on the site.
The site lets you click on a project to read (and add to) its description. You can also discuss the project and vote on whether you believe it is critical or not. For a more local view, you can drill down to projects in a particular city.
You can search the database by: Keyword, States/City or Project Type. The site breaks the projects into the following categories:
- Airport (529 projects)
- Amtrak (50 projects)
- CDBG (4028 projects)
- Energy (1378 projects)
- Housing (634 projects)
- Public Safety (1505 projects)
- Schools (1066 projects)
- Streets/Roads (4724 projects)
- Transit (807 projects)
- Water (4029 projects)
It is an interesting and informative site that keeps you informed on where the money is going. I would hope that if projects get enough negative votes they would probably not be included in the funding. If nothing else this process makes you feel like you do have some say in the way the money is being spent.