Group Project: Help Test Gov't Transparency

from neilsphotoalbum on Flickr

from neilsphotoalbum on Flickr

Help us test the government's new transparency initiatives. How easy is the system? How useful is the information?

The Obama administration requested that government agencies post data online in an easily searchable format by last Saturday, February 6th. In order to test the effectiveness and accessibility of this 'data dump,' we want you to help search through the USA Spending Contracts Database, which contains data on all government contracts from the last 10 years. Follow the instructions below and report on your user experience.

Step 1: Go to the USA Spending Contract Database: Click Here

Step 2: Enter your home zipcode into the 'Place Zipcode' field about 1/3 of the way down the page. (eg if you are from Del Mar, Ca enter '92014'; if you from Nelson County, VA enter '22938')

Step 3: Press the 'Submit Query' button at the bottom of the page.

Step 4: Now, report your results! In the comments section below, tell us what you find.

+ How was your experience? Was the tool easy to use? Does this feel like a step forward for transparency?

Also cut and paste:
+ Zipcode you searched
+ Total dollars awarded (result is on the top left of page)
+ Total number of contractors (just below top dollars)
+ Total number of transactions (just below top contractors)
+ Top Three Contracting Agencies (these are the top government agencies that awarded contracts to the area; find this number on the right column of the page)
+ Top Three Contractors (these are the top private agencies that were awarded contracts; find this number on the right column of the page)

Feel free to post anything else of interest you discovered! Any surprises in the numbers? Any advice to make these tools easier to use? Post your report below!