Monday, 13 July 2009

Obama's commitment to transparency

One of the lesser discussed aspects of the Obama administration is its commitment to transparency. Nowhere is this exhibited more impressively than in its usaspending.gov website. The site now has a more sophisticated tool where IT projects can be scanned- you can see how much each department has spent, what it has spent it on, whether its on budget and schedule, and see an evaluation of the expenditure.

You can even embed aspects of the information on your own website like so (this is the data from the Department for Health and Human Services but as you can see it isn't quite right yet for some reason- it should look like this):



Needs work and presumably this type of evaluation data will be available across all types of spending in time.

This is all a good start and it is easy to use. However, the really useful data is the assessment of outcomes. What is the impact on health by the investments made? It seems to me transparency is one thing but alongside that there needs to be some form of justification. This is not a criticism- this website is an important initiative and it will be interesting to see how it develops. But costs even with evaluation data need to be coupled with benefits. Or the question could become, the Federal government is spending all my tax money, but why?

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