Government Technology

National Poll Finds Demand for Transparency in Economic Recovery Package



February 4, 2009 By

An overwhelming majority of voters want full and open reporting on how Recovery Act funds are spent at federal and state levels, according to a nationwide survey conducted last week on behalf of the Coalition for an Accountable Recovery. Further, roughly eight in 10 voters say that making the U.S. government more accountable and more open to average citizens should be a high priority for the new administration; four out of 10 said it is "one of the most important priorities."

The demand for greater transparency in the recovery package reaches across partisan, geographic and demographic divides. Republicans, independents, and Democrats alike strongly support the inclusion of tracking and reporting requirements to ensure federal money is effectively spent and has a positive impact on the economy:

  • Three-quarters of voters (76 percent) believe that "creating a national Web site where citizens can see what companies and government agencies are getting the funds, for what purposes, and the number and quality of jobs being created or saved" would have an important impact on the package, including 39 percent who believe its impact would be extremely important.

Support for state transparency Web sites to monitor recovery funds received almost equally high marks, again from Republicans, independents and Democrats:

  • Fully 76 percent of American voters said creating state level Web sites to track funds was "important," and 34 percent said it was "very important."

"Whether or not we agree with the stimulus bill's priorities, officials at the federal and state levels must assure taxpayers that their hard-earned money will be used in a responsible manner," said National Taxpayers Union Government Affairs Manager Andrew Moylan. "The best way to do this is to make information on stimulus spending transparent and easily available to the public in a searchable online format."

However, although state governments will have to report to the federal government, the current bill does not demand that states create public Web sites to show their own citizens how they are spending the money, despite the fact that state governments will be responsible for dispensing over half the funds. Underscoring the breadth of support for this reform, 70 percent of Republicans, 74 percent of independents, and 80 percent of Democrats believe it would have an important impact on the recovery package.

Greg LeRoy, executive director of Good Jobs First, remarked, "Transparency is not just necessary policy; it's good politics. No one wants well-intended stimulus funding to become tainted by corruption and waste at the state and local levels. Getting lots of taxpayer eyeballs on the money is President Obama's best bet for keeping governors and mayors from frittering away his Recovery Plan."

The survey was conducted between January 13th and January 20th, 2008 by Lake Research Partners, in collaboration with Topos Partnership. It reached 900 adults, 18 years of age or older, in the United States who are registered and voted in the 2008 General Election.


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