Report: Transparent & Accountable Budgets

Massachusetts Stimulus Website: What It Tells Us & How It Could Tell Us More

Released by: MASSPIRG

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) was both a response to an economic emergency and an effort to launch a new set of policies to build a stronger foundation for long-term economic growth. It was signed into law 28 days after the new President took office. In the following months, the federal and state governments have been required to develop systems to distribute – and to track – hundreds of billions of dollars targeted at rebuilding our infrastructure, maintaining and improving the quality of education in our public schools, helping states to avoid budget cuts that would harm residents and the economy, supporting conservation and weatherization, investing in healthcare technology, and funding a variety of strategies to put people to work.

To better insure the ARRA investments meet these critical goals, the law called for a comprehensive level of data collection and transparency, significantly exceeding the current level of budget and contracting disclosure for most states, including Massachusetts. Comprehensive transparency allows us all—the public, government officials, administrators, businesses contractors, and residents—to ensure ARRA projects and investments are distributed and used fairly and efficiently. Because the law also sought to distribute funds quickly, building these tracking systems while implementing the law and distributing the funds poses daunting challenges.

This brief examines how Massachusetts has used its recovery website to provide information about ARRA spending – and describes additional strategies that could improve transparency.

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