The purpose of the USDebtClock.org is to inform the public of the dire financial condition of the United States of America–and it does it a pretty good job. The origin and history of the National Debt Clock from physical billboard to online is told in Wikipedia.
A reader suggested that I look at the Federal Procurement Data System – Next Generation and write about what I find and how useful their data sets are. So I mined their web site for essential information, downloaded their 14 Excel data sets, merged the 2006 – 2010 data sets, and created data dictionaries for all the data sets to I could see what could be done.
I noted that most of these data sets were very wide (had lots of columns) which requires special tools and techniques to work with effectively. A recent Breaking Gov story on “Government Operating Data Hard To Find, Harder To Use” based on a new study from Deloitte made the same point. In essence the government needs performance dashboards that ordinary people can understand and use so I decided to do that with their data.
My detailed work to organize and display their data sets in a dashboard is shown on my Semantic Community page. What is important to our readers is what I found.
My initial impression was that the government sure spends a lot of money in a lot of contracts and for special projects like disasters (hurricanes, earthquakes, and oil spills). Not surprising I found that a lot of the Recovery spending in FY 2011 went to the Department of Defense and to other than small businesses.
This is not Recovery helping “Main Street instead of Wall Street”. Small business got 26% or less of the disaster sending and other categories such as Small Disadvantaged, Women Owned, and Services Disabled got even less (1-13%).
The top 100 government contractors have been getting about $300,000,000,000 (read 300 Billion) from the US government the past three years.
My conclusion: In essence the Federal Procurement Data System – Next Generation needs yet another generation that simplifies these 14 data sets and their results so the public and decision-makers (e.g., legislators making budget cuts) can use them to see where the money is going and what taxpayers are getting for it.
I had to spend about a day to begin to figure that out from this new web site and I do this for a living.