Barack Obama introduced his stimulus plan to the world a few weeks ago, had it approved in the house and senate, and subsequently established a separate website and program to analyse the progress of the package. According to the ‘Our Mission’ section of the website: “The Act provides for unprecedented levels of transparency and accountability so that you will be able to know how, when, and where your tax dollars are being spent. Spearheaded by a new Recovery Board, this Act contains built-in measures to root out waste, inefficiency, and unnecessary spending.”
Of course, the stimulus is mostly waste, inefficiency and unnecessary spending, but given that Obama has already mentioned his plan for integrating this level of transparency into all areas of government spending it could prove a useful check on government spending in the future. Therefore, at least in theory this plan for transparency in government spending is positive and quite revolutionary in the history of US government policy. For those Americans who have tried to use government websites to search for information on just about anything, they know how frustrating it can be to actually find what you are looking for. And since government databases are for the most part inaccessible from search engines such as Google, a user will have to spend hours sifting through poorly organized pdf and other text files to discover that they have been on the wrong government website all along.
A step forward of sorts, one hopes the UK follows suit.