Getting the Most Out of

March 6, 2009

One hundred fifty million. That’s the number of hits the Obama Administration’s

website has received since it went live only a couple of weeks ago,

according to

an Office of Management and Budget (OMB) official testifying yesterday before a Senate committee. It’s clear that the American people have a hunger for information about the Recovery Act that so many are counting on to help propel the country out of the current economic slump.

The Administration has committed itself to making the economic recovery plan transparent and accountable, but as with all complex undertakings, the details will make all the difference. The new

Coalition for an Accountable Recovery

(CAR)—co-chaired by OMB Watch and Good Jobs First—is bird-dogging those details.

CAR has just submitted a

15-page memorandum

to OMB providing an initial set of recommendations on how the Recovery Act reporting system should be structured. Our key proposal is that the system should capture information from


public and private-sector organizations through which Recovery Act funds flow—every “ultimate organizational end-user” of the money.

In other words, every contractor, subcontractor, and sub-subcontractor would simply enroll and report through one central online registry. That data would be accessible to the public in raw form as well in a machine-readable format that, through a system of tagging, will allow results to be automatically aggregated. Any user would be able to search for and display information by state, by city, by agency or corporation, by project, by ZIP code, etc. As we

said last week

, we want millions of eyeballs on the money. And it sure looks like millions of eyeballs are ready to go!

Since job creation is one of the primary goals of the Recovery plan, the memo includes recommendations for collecting meaningful information not only on the number of jobs but also their type and quality. This means gathering company-specific data on total hours of work generated (by broad occupational categories), number of workers, total payroll and extent of healthcare coverage.

CAR intends to refine and amplify its recommendations to OMB as the process moves forward and those hit numbers rise into the billions.