But this we already know: More than a third of stimulus funds have been spent. And minority entrepreneurs are still asking: Where are the contracts?
Roughly 80 percent of stimulus spending is at the state and local levels. But Pennsylvania is the only state that tracks and reports on minority business participation on stimulus-funded projects.
In an interview with Cynthia Gordy, Washington Correspondent for Essence magazine, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood noted:
The fact that so many of these disadvantaged businesses have gone to their members of Congress and said, “We don't have access,” I think is something Congress will consider [establishing minority business goals].Transparency matters. It is about having information in real-time so that the public can hold elected officials and policymakers accountable.
In the absence of data, minority entrepreneurs will continue to complain. Right now, they don’t know whether their lack of access to stimulus opportunities is due to business as usual, lack of capacity, lack of capital or construction bonds, or lack of trying.
Last weekend, I attended Transparency Camp 2010 in DC. While the event attracted its share of geeks and goo-goos, the discussions went beyond open government as an abstract ideal. Folks want access data to turn ideas into action, whether it’s election protection or MBE participation.
One session leader, Robert Damashek, observed:
Data promotes shared awareness of what’s going on … If we have a shared awareness, we would understand why government is doing what it’s doing.As for how much data is enough, Damashek said:
Enough knowledge for the public to make good decisions so that they don’t just bit complain about it.The bottom line: In the public policy space, there’s no such thing as being too transparent. The more data the better.