fedspending.org, a project funded by the Sunlight foundation, provides quick and easy access to all of the contracts and grants of the federal government, data similar to what the SF controller’s office has on a local level in San Francisco. It beat a project mandated by the federal government by a year and spent just a fraction of the cost, as reported by Sunlight’s Larry Mackinson.
Next step is mashing the data with campaign funding and other related information. We’ve started this for San Francisco– at whosfundingwhom.org, one can now see a list of entities who appear in both the campaign finance data and the contracts data. But this is only the start of what is possible in helping researchers do jobs like find organizations that have broken the law by contributing in the same year they were awarded a contract.
We mashed by downloading the entire SF contracts data and campaign finance data. What is needed, of course, at both the local and federal levels, are web service APIs, such as what exists for funding data at the state level. These would eliminate the need for mashup applications to download entire databases, and keep data as up-to-date as possible.