Economics Redux: Why The Privately Owned Site, Not The Feds' Own, Is Tracking Stimulus Spending in Real Time


Remember the day when President Barack Obama promised that concerned citizens would be able to track "every dime" of stimulus money online? He was talking about the official government website,

Which doesn't have any details about contracts or grants yet—and won't until October 2009 or, more likely, sometime next year, long after the thrill of living is gone and a huge chunk of the $787 billion stimulus package has already been frittered away on "shovel-ready" projects such as the John Murtha-Johnstown Cambria County Airport (pop. 20 passengers a day).

Thankfully, the folks at the information-services firm Onvia stepped in and created the site, which is already on the case and showing, as much as is possible, who is getting what.

Like Adam Smith's butchers, bakers, and brewers, it's not from Onvia's benevolence that the company is doing this, but from its self-interest: The company puts mostly small and mid-sized firms in touch with local, state, and federal agencies that need some sort of contract work done.

Which might well be the point: The private sector has eaten the feds' lunch on this precisely because they have to hustle in order to keep the wolf from the door. Even, ironically (and  disturbingly!), when the project is all about cashing in on government dollars.

On Wednesday, May 13 6, 2009, caught up with Onvia CEO Mike Pickett and asked him about the reaction so far to, his hopes for government accountability and transparency, and whether sunlight really is the best disinfectant.

Approximately 5 minutes. Interview conducted and edited by Dan Hayes at the Heritage Foundation.

Go here for embed code and Ipod, HD, and audio-only versions.

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  1. Remember the day when President Barack Obama promised …

    I stopped right there to make this comment. If it was something libertarian leaning folks approved of, he’s probably already recanted, modified or delayed execution into the indeterminate future.

    Now I can go read the article and see if I’m correct.

  2. I see that wiggle #3 was used. Oh well, the government employed or contracted programmers for the project will still get paid. If the site The Chosen One ever does go online, I confidently predict it will be over budget as well as delayed past this October.

    Such is life in Obamaland.

  3. Remember the day when, if you clicked on an H&R post, it was something you hadn’t read yesterday at the same frigging site?

    Naw, neither do I. Nice fantasy, though.

    You guys suffering from Hollywood disease? Like, run out of new things to comment on so you need to recycle the gems of (literally!) yesterday? Because – I don’t know – it seems like there’s still lots of new stuff.

  4. You guys suffering from Hollywood disease? Like, run out of new things to comment on so you need to recycle the gems of (literally!) yesterday?

    What’s the ruling? Can we drink to this?

  5. Remember the day…

    You had me at “remember”, Nick.

    Not really.

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