The website you've been waiting for

A screenshot of the Performance.gov website.

Bob Moon: The White House has just opened a website to public access that's designed to show how well the bureaucrats are putting your money to work. Performance.gov is a clearinghouse of data on federal agencies: bar graphs, spreadsheets, pie charts -- exciting news for nerds, maybe, but how about the rest of us? Here's Marketplace's David Gura.

David Gura: You may not know this, but the U.S has a chief performance officer: Jeff Zients.

Jeff Zients: I work with senior leaders across government to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of their operations and to make sure that every taxpayer dollar is well spent.

He's the guy behind performance.gov.

Zients: Which is a site that provides a window into the Obama administration's approach to improving federal government performance.

It could become the place to go for answers to questions like these:

Craig Jennings: How many miles of highway have we built? How many bridges have we repaired? How many vaccines have we delivered?

That's Craig Jennings, with a nonprofit called OMB Watch.

Now, a lot of the data on this site isn't new. But Cary Coglianese says this is the first time it's all been available in one place. He's a law professor at Penn.

Cary Coglianese: If you piece all of these things together, you get a picture of what high-level officials in the White House might be seeing when they're managing what's happening across the entire federal government.

The government's been beta testing the site for almost a year now, using it to look for inefficiencies and cost overruns.

David Weil teaches economics at Boston University. He says there's a goldmine of data here -- if you know where to look and what to look for.

David Weil: It's always very difficult to translate complex data systems into the ways different users are going to want it.

So, if you're feeling like a wonk, the site's live now, at performance.gov.

In Washington, I'm David Gura for Marketplace.

About the author

David Gura is a reporter for Marketplace, based in the Washington, D.C. bureau.
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Watch your words. Calling us <the fans of this show> wonks and nerds because of our interest in data visualization shows that you have poor form.

What's taken them so long? Obama's campaign rhetoric made it sound like something like this would be in place the day he took office. We knew to discount that, but if a website to collect government reports takes over two years to produce, this is a sign that either they picked an incompetent or corrupt developer or the government is several orders of magnitude too big.

Slight correction:
David Weil teaches at Brown University, not Boston University.

My last mane is pronounced the same way his is, I googled him to see if we are related. [5 generations ago, my family name was spelled Weil]
His professional page shows up on the Brown website and Boston makes no mention of him...

I have no idea if we are related. It's just not every day I hear what sounds like my name on the radio.

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