With the government spending $797B USD in taxpayer money on a stimulus package to jump start the economy and lower unemployment, there's much fear of misuse and abuse. In order to try to preempt such fears, the Obama administrations launched a new website, Recovery.gov, and recently it worked to revamp the site to make it more accessible
However, many are upset over a quiet General Services Administration press release that announced how much the site would cost over a 5 year period -- $18M USD. The site's redesign alone will cost $9.5M USD.
Craig Jennings of OMB Watch, a watchdog group often critical of government spending, states, "I do think $9.5 million is a bit much. They already have a large data set to work with. What Recovery.gov will do -- and whether they need $9.5 million to do this, I don't know -- is display it."
The site currently offers information on the $60.4B USD of stimulus money award by July 3. Many complain that the information is hard to read and understand with it being unclear where exactly the money is going in the case of a specific stimulus award.
Edward Pound, spokesman for the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board, the government group running the site insists the site is taxpayer money well spent. He states, "This thing has a lot more to do than designing a good-looking Web site. We're not here to waste the taxpayers' money."
He says that his organization will demand reports from every group receiving stimulus money, telling how they spent it. He states, "We have to have the capability to receive that information and post it. And we need the infrastructure to support all of that. They are going to be filing very detailed information -- who the key officers are on every project, what they're paid, and so forth. And you'll have to be able to see that, very quickly."
The site when first launched was relatively popular, receiving 150 million hits in its first month according to market research firm Alexa. Since then, traffic has lulled and the site currently sits at 36,572nd in Alexa's traffic rankings.
Andrew MacRae, a website developer comments, "It's not a bad website. But it's not a tool to tell me where the money is being used."
Mr. Jennings says his organization has already made a better site at a fraction of the cost. He states, "OMB Watch built a site called FedSpending.org, which does basically the same thing. We said we'll license it for $600,000."