Best tools for local governments to track stimulus spending

IT spending in the stimulus package is not just about health records.The funding package also includes some $300 billion for state and local governments to modernize and improve the efficiency of government services.

IT spending in the stimulus package is not just about health records. The funding package also includes some $300 billion for state and local governments to modernize and improve the efficiency of government services. Sound like technology spending? Joaquin Gonzalez, director of research at government consulting firm CivicUS, says a third of that money will ultimately be invested in IT projects, Steve Lohr writes in the New York Times.

As part of getting all these funds, though, local governments need to track and report spending to the Office of Management and Budget. Gonzalez said in a research note, though, that governments should also seek tools that allow publicizing initiatives to the public and tracking internal spending.

Best of the pack: CGI's Reporting Gateway, Acumen's salesforce.com-based START and IBM's Economic Recovery Fund Tracking. Not up to the task: Microsoft's Stimulus360, Visible Strategies' See-It, NIC's transparent.gov and MicroStrategy's Stimulus Dashboard.

Sharing information with the public and employing a dashboard to manage stimulus spending are both useful, but they should not take precedence over the time-sensitive and federally required task of providing data to federal authorities. In the near future, jurisdictions can look forward to systems that offer all three capabilities in a single product. In the meantime, arrangements could be reached with the vendors that provide OMB-compliant products to include solutions to manage the spending internally and/or spread the word among the citizenry. Acumen and IBM already have started to do this.