Follow the Money
The federal government has never made it easy for the public to "follow the money" that flows from Washington through contracts and grants. It took a nonprofit, OMB Watch, to make that information easily available on a website, which the group has just expanded and updated with more data. The website, www.fedspending.org, is also being used as a model for a new official government site.
The site allows anyone to search for grant and contract spending by company, city, agency or industry. "We were frustrated by how hard it was to find out about government spending," said Gary Bass, the group's executive director. "We were being told we couldn't do this - it would cost millions of dollars." After Hurricane Katrina highlighted the need to hold government contractors accountable, OMB Watch received a three-year grant from the Sunlight Foundation and launched the site six months later.
Congress, also frustrated by the difficulty of monitoring government spending, passed a 2006 law requiring the federal government to make similar information easily available through the Office of Management and Budget, which the agency expects will be posted online by Jan 1.
-- Sarah Cohen, Washington Post Database Editor
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Posted by: airedale | December 7, 2007 1:37 AM