Federal Eye: What Would You Do: Suggestions on Building Recovery.gov

A big element of the Obama administration’s plans to distribute and oversee economic stimulus funds is Recovery.gov, eagerly anticipated as the administration’s first stab at opening wide the doors of the federal bureaucracy. The Eye has taken great interest in Earl Devaney’s efforts and recently asked some former colleagues and government transparency experts to weigh in. YOU should leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

“My vision here is that every reporter in America will wake up and click on this site and be looking for problems,” said Devaney, chairman of the group responsible for overseeing the distribution of stimulus funds. His group will soon take control of the Web site.

Devaney says it will be at least one year until the site reaches full operational capacity and he hopes it becomes “easily retrievable and understood by taxpayers, lawmakers, and watchdog groups alike. The public must be given the opportunity to provide feedback and be heard.”

So how can he do it? What should he do?

“Whatever data is published on the site should be made available in machine-readable format such that journalists and private citizens alike can take it to run independent analysis,” said Adrian Holovaty, a former washingtonpost.com developer and founder and creator of EveryBlock, a site that tracks news in major metropolitan areas literally block-by-block. Holovaty hopes that third-party sites could “mashup” the data, or present it in different ways for different purposes.

Beyond the technology, the government will have to serve multiple audiences.

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