Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Lessons from Stimulus Reporting First Round

Now that October has passed, recipients of ARRA Stimulus funding can put their first reporting period behind them. The data is now in the hands of OMB and other federal agencies, and will soon be displayed in all its glory on www.recovery.gov. So, how did it go?

Overall, Stimulus360 proved to be a flexible and responsive platform for tracking and reporting ARRA funding. The flexibility was tested by changes in reporting requirements that continued nearly until the day that reporting was enabled. The schema was changed several times, but all our clients using the system were able to submit on time. One of our clients said that with Stimulus360 she was able to "do in 20 minutes what would have taken her two days."

What will happen next? We anticipate that OMB will refine the process a bit and make it simpler to report in January, especially for recipients of large numbers of grants. No doubt there will be many lessons from the first round of reporting and the website will be improved both in terms of user interface and performance.

The number of grants will grow significantly between now and January, as grants flow through the approval process. One of our clients estimated that they will need to report on four times as many grants in January than they did in May.

On the transparency front, states, counties and cities will find out which presentations of data are most effective for their constituents. New visualizations and analysis tools will be applied to the data to make it easier to understand.

Only time will tell how long the stimulus efforts will continue, but it is safe to say that this effort will change how government works for a long time to come.