What have you always wondered about the economy? Tell us

The website you’ve been waiting for

David Gura Aug 26, 2011

The website you’ve been waiting for

David Gura Aug 26, 2011

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.

Marketplace is on a mission.

We believe Main Street matters as much as Wall Street, economic news is made relevant and real through human stories, and a touch of humor helps enliven topics you might typically find…well, dull.

Through the signature style that only Marketplace can deliver, we’re on a mission to raise the economic intelligence of the country—but we don’t do it alone. We count on listeners and readers like you to keep this public service free and accessible to all. Will you become a partner in our mission today?

Your donation is critical to the future of public service journalism. Support our work today – for as little as $5 – and help us keep making people smarter.