February 15, 2007

Federal Spending Database On Track For January 2008

Since I'm kicking back at home nursing a case of the creeping crud, I had an opportunity to participate in a conference call with officials at the Office of Management and Budget regarding the status of the federal spending database and website. The site, which has an interim announcement and commentary page, resulted from the efforts of Tom Coburn and Barack Obama in the previous session of Congress to create accountability for federal spending, and Congress mandated that it be operational by January 2008.

Clay Johnson, Deputy Director for Management, Office of Management and Budget, and Robert Shea, Associate Director for Management, addressed a few of the bloggers who helped push the project last year. NZ Bear and Robert Bluey joined me for the update. Both men gave an optimistic view of the project, but wanted help in determining how the final project should look. They have made the wise decision to gain inspiration from the joint OMB Watch/Sunlight Foundation site, fedspending.org, but also want to hear more about how the database should be structured.

I believe all of us felt comfortable with their direction. NZ gave some good suggestions about ensuring that the site could provide detailed files for those who want to do a great deal of their own number-crunching while still making the site useful for casual research. The OMB officials felt that they could have something preliminary up for this year, and are open to using selected bloggers as a beta-test group to ensure proper functionality.

I don't think OMB provided any surprises today, but it's good to see that they have not allowed the project to fade away after the midterm elections.


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