Track Spending with "Google for Government"

The story...

In September, 2006, the widely-supported bipartisan Coburn-Obama Bill directed the Office of Management and Budget to create a searchable database of almost $3 trillion (in 2007 dollars) in federal grants. Dubbed by some as “Google for Government," it is officially known as the “Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act of 2006.” This was the first law Barack Obama introduced when he came to the Senate. The legislation called for tracking contracts, earmarks, direct payments, and loans by January 1, 2008. See the result at

An unusual bipartisan collaboration made implementation possible. OMB Watch, among the strongest of OMB’s non-profit watchdog critics, already had a website set up with software that fulfilled the data requirements of the Act, and then some. OMB Watch’s Gary Bass approached Robert Shea, an OMB associate director, with an offer to help. The Washington Post’s Elizabeth Williamson tells the story of how this unlikely collaboration developed and produced a state-of-the-art open government product based on the watchdog software that runs


Extend the “Google for Government” search concept (and software) to OFS

Like annual federal contracts and grants are now, a database can provide searchable detail on all these deals—including who got them and who transacted them. Go to




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