Beyond Visualizing Spending, the Application Enables Reporting of Fraud and Waste
Citizens can now use their smartphones to see just how the United States government is spending stimulus funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA). Shortly after the act passed, the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board launched a web application based on Esri technology that enables the public to track the $276 billion being spent on contracts, grants, and loans throughout the country. In late 2011, the board released a mobile version of the application for iPhone and iPad that offers the same functionality on the go.
"We felt that in order to do what we do, which is ensure transparency and accountability," says Edward Pound, director of communications for the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board, "we have to stay current and keep up with the ways people are accessing information and communicating. You can really get to a lot of information from the app. It's very easy for anyone to use."
The mobile application launches with a view from the user's GPS location to provide an immediate view of projects in the area. Users may also search for projects by entering a specific location. By touching a colored dot on the map—green for contracts, blue for grants, or pink for loans—users can access project details, including the amount of the award and the jobs funded. They can also send feedback on projects, along with an image, or use the application to report fraud or waste related to recovery funds.
In February, the application was named the 2011 Government Mobile App of the Year by the Government Technology Research Alliance at its GOVTek Awards gala in Washington, DC. The awards recognize government and industry IT leaders whose work improves the way government delivers services, interacts with citizens, shares information, and protects national assets.
"While all the nominees were worthy of the recognition," says Parham Eftekhari, director of research at the Government Technology Research Alliance, "we felt that the Recovery app was one of the best examples of how mobile technology can be used by the government to provide transparency and communicate with citizens by sharing data in an app that is easy to use and understand."
The custom application is available free through the Apple App Store at store.apple.com. Search for "Recovery.gov" to find the application. To view the board's mapping application online, visit www.recovery.gov and select Where is the money going? Anyone can download the free application from the Apple App Store and use it on an iPhone or iPad to see how ARRA funds are being spent.