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Advice for

Rusty Talbot posted the following request for feedback on the Sunlight Labs list this morning

The Recovery, Accountability, & Transparency Board wishes to have an open discussion with all interested developers about how data should be made available via

As you are all aware, a new version of will be released soon. From a data standpoint, the initial release of the new site will replicate existing functionality. However, the Board aims to set a new standard of transparency with this site and would therefore like to make the data available in the most convenient and straightforward way (or ways) possible so you can use and analyze official, up-to-date Recovery Act data. We need your input to achieve this goal.

Please let us know how the site could best meet your needs in terms of  machine-readable data format(s) and standards, APIs, guidance, training, etc. [emphasis mine]

As I waited for Rusty to respond to my question of how best to provide feedback, Luigi Montanez went ahead with posting a series of excellent pointers.  I second Luigi's advice, also commend  the recent OMB Watch Recovery Act Transparency Status Report)  and have similar general web development advice to offer, which I had written up as "Making Your Web Site Mashable" (pdf)  (Chapter 12 of my book Pro Web 2.0 Mashups).

In terms of work specifically related to the Recovery Act. my Berkeley colleagues Erik Wilde, Eric Kansa, and I published a report "Proposed Guideline Clarifications for American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009" in which we proposed and prototyped  the use of Atom feeds to disseminate Recovery spending data.  We are currently at work on updated recommendations based on the latest Recovery Act OMB Guidance.

One of my most important things that has made the Recovery spending less-than-transparent is how difficult it has been to locate basic accounting data.  For example, after looking for months, I have yet to locate a reliable list of Recovery TAFS, basically a list of all the pots of money (as tallied by Treasury) and the maximum amount of money we expect to see in each pot (the dollars appropriated).  Now, does list the amounts obligated and spent by agency, but how much money has been appropriated?  That basic data should be clearly documented at, so that we can track the flow of money reliably from the originating legislation to Treasury out to the agencies  and then to contractors and grantees  or the states.  (I will note that ProPublica's Stimulus Tracker does break down the totals by agency but doesn't publish the list of individual accounts.)

At any rate, there is more to say — but I'll wait until Rusty responds to what is here.

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  1. Cloudlands | September 28, 2009 at 8:56 am | Permalink

    New version of launches…

    The new version 2.0 of the site was launched today. I've been tracking recent happenings on Twitter and elsewhere, so here are some recent developments:

    The new site is available here.
    Rusty Talbot from Synteractive, the developers…

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