Knight Blog

The blog of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

ProPublica releases new tools to track the stimulus

Aug. 6, 2009, 11:19 a.m., Posted by Knight Foundation

ProPublicas tools make it easy for anyone to track the stimulus.

Knight Foundation grantee ProPublica has been watching closely how money from the federal government's stimulus package is being disbursed to communities all across the US. And now, they've made it easier for non-journalists to track this data as well.

Yesterday, the team at ProPublica unveiled the Stimulus Progress Bar, a user-friendly, at-a-glance look at how much of the stimulus money has been spent, how much is left, and where it's going. They plan to update the progress bar every week.

This is part of a suite of tools ProPublica's released that have made it extremely easy to track stimulus spending down to the county level. Here's what's been committed so far in my home county in Minnesota.

This week, they used these databases to unearth two key findings in assessing the progress of the stimulus:


  • Only 12 percent of the stimulus money has made it out so far.

  • That money hasn't necessarily been spent in the communities that are suffering the worst from unemployment and poverty. (Their analysis found that stimulus spending so far has no relationship to either unemployment or poverty.)

 

ProPublica targets these tools not just to everyday citizens, but also to other journalists, whether in established news organizations or in emerging ones. At the top of every page is an injunction to "Steal our stories." (All of ProPublica's work is licensed under Creative Commons.)

Take a look. You might just get inspired to do some investigative reporting.