Crazy Idea for Recovery.gov

I don't know how it could possibly happen, but wouldn't it be amazing if the economic stimulus capital being infused back into circulation in order to jump start our stalled economy was tracked on Recovery.gov. Literally tracked. Like Where'sGeorge.com but less sketchy.

Is it possible for Recovery.gov to cut across OMB into other department's data, maybe even including Treasury with the serial numbers of bills and map how direct grants or federally funded projects get transformed directly into cash. And then track the cash around the country. It's probably impossible but if Americans could follow the money in circulation and see that when our government is run by people who believe in the power of government to do good, rather than by people who believe government can't do good, we get - surprise - a government that does good rather than a government that fails for 8 catastrophic years.

If you think Barack Obama's approval rating is good now, the above could make him become the most beloved person ever.

The idea stems from this story:

Brewton pharmacist launches homegrown economic stimulus with $2 billsA small-town pharmacist intrigued by the government's economic stimulus plan decided to launch his own version with $16,000 in $2 bills, and area stores have already felt the impact.

He paid his employees with $2 bills so he and the rest of the town's business community could see how the money circulates.

Workers are keeping a log of the stores they visit, more than 65 at last count. Some have stopped in at stores they never tried before.

From the Winn-Dixie to the Peebles department store, merchants said the $2 bills have been noticed.

"I've had three customers this week come in and pay with $2 bills," said Candy Smith, owner of a clothing boutique downtown.

Sammy Weaver, owner of Weaver's in Brewton, said he appreciates Cottrell and his commitment to the town.

"The $2 bills make it easy to see where it's going, see how it turns over and generates tax revenue that helps our town and schools," said Weaver, whose store sells jewelry and clothing. "I plan to save up the bills that come in here and pay Danny my bill with them."

Some of the $2 bills have even circulated back to the pharmacy.

"It's not a huge amount of money," Cottrell said of his hometown stimulus package. "It would have a more noticeable impact if someone with more resources came up with a huge amount of money, but the times are tough."

Um, that last bit is directed at you President Obama. Or specifically at you, Vivek Kundra, new CIO of the USA.

Do this at a really granular level at Recovery.gov.

For more info on Kundra, check out what Tim O'Reilly (who was my pick for the job by the way) posted on Kundra's approach to open government online. In short, it's a huge opportunity for eGov.

Already, thanks to Silicon Valley's Congressman Mike Honda, the Omnibus Appropriations Bill includes a magic pill to unlock bulk data downloads. Kundra is going to have fun with that. But does it go all the way down to Treasury Department - and the exact serial numbers on bills and when they enter circulation, and all the rest, I don't know... someone does.

Either way, the official records of the United States Government -- our government; the collective management system we instituted to secure our rights and freedoms -- should not be available for purchase only by those who can fork over $80,000 - in the case of the Library of Congress data.

Now, state legislators across the country should check out Honda's provision called "Public Access to Legislative Data" to H.R. 1105 and pass similar provisions at the state level. This will really open up the Social Entrepreneurship civic PoliTech data mashing by spreading out the innovation spaces available into scores of sandboxes rather than just the big one in DC.

I would love Advomatic to be able to get into the New York State Senate data, for example. Paging Senator Schneiderman...

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About Fred Gooltz

Fred has been dreaming up projects, tools, and innovative strategies for Advomatic (and our clients) for 4 glorious years.

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