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Stimulus Reporting by Jennifer LaFleur

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Jennifer LaFleur presents at the Reynolds Center's Washington, D.C. workshop, "What's Next for the Economy in Your Town." For more information, please visit http://businessjournalism.org.

Published in: Career, News & Politics
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Stimulus Reporting by Jennifer LaFleur

  1. 1. Investigating the stimulus Jennifer LaFleur, ProPublica
  2. 10. The stimulus touches nearly every beat <ul><li>Housing </li></ul><ul><li>Transportation </li></ul><ul><li>Community programs </li></ul><ul><li>Unemployment </li></ul><ul><li>Technology </li></ul>
  3. 11. Getting started <ul><li>What money is going to your community? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Education </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Transportation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Weatherization </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Evaluating how it’s being spent </li></ul><ul><ul><li>How is the money distributed? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Who is getting contracts? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>What’s being fixed? </li></ul></ul>
  4. 12. Some key federal sites <ul><li>The bill : Breakdown of what was supposed to be funded and rules of funding. (part A) </li></ul><ul><li>Recovery.gov – Main site for administration on recovery – good for getting information on overall plan </li></ul><ul><li>USAspending.gov – More on federal spending </li></ul><ul><li>Federal Procurement Data System – federal contracts </li></ul><ul><li>Federal Agency recovery sites – Google the agency name and “recovery” </li></ul>
  5. 13. Local information <ul><li>Check with state agencies to get information on projects </li></ul><ul><li>Check with your local city or county to get information on projects there. </li></ul>
  6. 14. Sorting it all out <ul><li>Every type of funding takes a different path to the user. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>FED  STATE  CITY  PROJECT </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>FED  RECIPIENT </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Find out what reports an agency must file – every type of project will require some report being filed </li></ul><ul><li>You won’t know every final recipient. Data is only being released to two levels. </li></ul>
  7. 15. Sorting it all out <ul><ul><li>Not every dollar is reported on recovery.gov </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>- Some programs are not required to report </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>- Small awards don’t have to be reported </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>- Direct awards, such as SBA loans aren’t reported </li></ul></ul>
  8. 16. Sorting it all out <ul><ul><li>List of programs that require recipients to file 1512 (jobs) reports: http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/assets/memoranda_fy2009/m09-21-supp1.pdf </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Get much of detailed data on usaspending.gov </li></ul></ul>
  9. 17. ProPublica’s tools
  10. 18. ProPublica’s tools
  11. 19. ProPublica’s tools
  12. 20. ProPublica’s tools
  13. 21. ProPublica’s tools
  14. 22. ProPublica’s tools
  15. 23. ProPublica’s tools <ul><li>Stimulus FAQ s </li></ul><ul><li>Stimulus tool kit -- Basics on getting information on the stimulus </li></ul>
  16. 24. Backgrounding contractors <ul><li>Debarred federal contractors: https://www.epls.gov/epls/search.do </li></ul><ul><li>Federal Audit Clearinghouse </li></ul><ul><li>OSHA: www.osha.gov </li></ul><ul><li>Check to see if your state has a debarred contractors list </li></ul><ul><li>Check for your state’s database of complaints against firms </li></ul><ul><li>Check your state auditor’s reports (ex: TX ) </li></ul>
  17. 25. Checking on the ground <ul><li>Go to the job site and check: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Whether the project is actually up and running </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The number of workers </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Who the subcontractors are – check truck IDs or licenses </li></ul></ul>
  18. 26. Evaluating projects <ul><li>Federal bridge inspections – available from IRE </li></ul><ul><li>Dam inspections data – available from IRE, and national inventory of dams </li></ul><ul><li>Census data </li></ul><ul><ul><li>To adjust spending to per capita </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>to examine spending against demographics of your community </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Bureau of Labor Statistics – for unemployment data </li></ul>
  19. 27. Getting demographic information <ul><li>Census data: Factfinder.census.gov </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Use population estimates to get overall population </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Use the American Community Survey for other variables </li></ul></ul>
  20. 28. Other resources <ul><li>Stories: www.ire.org/extraextra </li></ul><ul><li>Stories and data: www.stateline.org </li></ul><ul><li>Tip Sheets: www.ire.org </li></ul><ul><li>Public records questions: www.rcfp.org </li></ul>
  21. 29. Tools for working with data <ul><li>Spreadsheets: Excel or Google spreadsheets </li></ul><ul><li>Databases: Access </li></ul><ul><li>Interactive Graphics – Many Eyes </li></ul><ul><li>Mapping – Google maps, ArcView, Many Eyes </li></ul>

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