Propublica’s stimulus coverage includes analytical reporting on stimulus-related issues and a database of stimulus projects. The “Adopt a Stimulus” involves aggregating transportation projects that are funded by the stimulus and approved by the Department of Transportation (DOT). The database contains all transportation projects, administered on the state and federal levels, which are approved by the DOT. The database includes a description of the project, location, funds allocated, project type, and a project number. Users can search for the projects by state or county and can volunteer to report on (or “adopt”) individual projects. ProPublica has plans to expand the scope of this project beyond transportation projects in the future. They also have a page that lists the tax cuts included in the stimulus, which has a description of the tax cut and its estimated cost, as well as an interactive graphic which shows the dollar per capita cost to the government of the different tax breaks by state.
Stimulus Watch is an independent, volunteer-run site that aggregates all the projects that were proposed for funding at the 2009 meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors. These projects have not necessarily been approved for funding nor are they necessarily part of the economic stimulus, but rather they represent how mayors would like to see money spent in their towns. Users can search for projects by state and locality and comment on the project. But the site doesn’t include projects that are actually funded, or those that are candidates for funding under the Recovery Act. It does, however, provide journalists insight into the priorities of local officials, which can be related to stimulus spending.
A unit of Investigative Reporters and Editors (IRE), the National Institute for Computer-Assisted Reporting (or NICAR) manages a database library that includes data on federal spending and federal contacts, but does not specify which projects are funded by the stimulus. NICAR provides access to cleaned data from the Census Bureau’s Federal Assistance Awards Data Set (FAADS), which contains information on federal grants, as well as the Federal Procurement Data Set (FPDS), administered by the General Service Administration, which has extensive information on federal contracts. These two data sets include all federal spending related to the stimulus, as well as other federal spending. While comprehensive, FAADS has a long lag time for reporting and its data can be months old. FPDS is updated quarterly. Given the lag time on the FAADS, the fact that neither FAADS nor FPDS identify stimulus projects, and the government’s plans to improve federal spending reporting through Recovery.gov, these datasets may not be useful to reporters wishing to cover the stimulus per say, but are helpful in covering government spending generally. NICAR makes both sets of data available to journalists for a fee, and offers help managing it.
The Tax Policy Center’s’s Report Card explains and rates the tax breaks included in the stimulus. The Report Card has an explanation of current law and the stimulus changes, a discussion of the tax break’s impact, and a subjective grade for each tax proposal included in the stimulus, which will amount to over $200 billion in funding over the life of the program.
The TPC provides detailed commentary on the stimulus tax provision, but doesn’t include information that would allow journalists to localize stimulus tax coverage. Reporters can use the TPC to learn about the tax issues, but will have to use other methods to report on local issues relating to the tax changes.
And then there are the blogs. We’ve sifted through the angry, guerrilla ex-banker musings (as well as some less angry ones) and picked our favorites.
A Goldman veteran who goes by Yves Smith comments on economic and finance news at Naked Capitalism, with super-long posts critiquing coverage. Bonus: mixed into the stinging commentary are animal pics as “antidotes du jour.”