When It Comes to Open Data for Infrastructure Spending, Call Me Conservative — Dennis D. McDonald's Web Site
lterrat's bookmarks 2017-03-22
"As I suggested in How Open and Transparent Should Federal Infrastructure Spending Data Be? there are 4 basic data related questions we need to answer in order to track and report on infrastructure spending:
- Who is spending the money?
- What is the infrastructure spending being used for?
- How is the infrastructure work being performed?
- Where is the infrastructure spending actually taking place?
Not addressed here is the why of infrastructure spending. Are we repairing crumbling and potentially dangerous roads and bridges? Are we trying to stimulate the economy and depressed areas? Or both?
Answers to 'why?' should drive detail about how we lay out measurable objectives and how we then determine (and report on) whether those objectives are being met. Unfortunately, when you read the back-and-forth comments by so-called liberals and conservatives about this topic of infrastructure spending you tend to hear the same old talking points played over and over again, such as:
- 'Infrastructure spending is just a payoff for local unions.'
- 'Infrastructure spending is just a payoff for wealthy business executives.'
- 'Infrastructure spending is just another way to hire large numbers of cheap illegals.'
- 'Infrastructure spending goes to major chrome plated projects that benefit the few.'
Reading between the lines of such casually repetitive commentaries you begin to see why infrastructure spending data have to be accessible to the public at all stages of the process. Here are some examples of the tough questions we should be asking:
- What are the rules for selecting infrastructure projects?
- How – and by whom -- are those rules being applied?
- What kinds of jobs are being created?
- Who's making money when infrastructure work is contracted out?
- Are data about infrastructure spending being made available to the public in ways the public finds useful?"