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Recovery.gov: 'The project should have failed'

August 5, 2010 |  5:30 am

Joe-biden 

A report from the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board sounds more like an episode of VH1's "Behind the Music" than another boring old white paper.

The 13-page report details the development and deployment of Recovery.gov, the government website for tracking stimulus spending, and FederalRecovery.gov, a system for government agencies to file data:

By any normal measure, the project should have failed. Indeed, the idea of developing two large-scale websites in a fraction of the usual time was enough to scare off 95 percent of eligible contractors from even bidding. An independent evaluation of the plan deemed it “extremely high risk” – fraught with numerous challenges, any one of which could torpedo the entire venture.

And that's just the first paragraph.

As is common for many federal white papers, the report does not include the name of the author. Bummer, because we dig your prose, anonymous writer.

The report discusses the against-all-odds five-month deadline for getting the first version out the door. It reveals that technology industry mogul and book publisher Tim O'Reilly contributed during planning stages.

Sadly, the white paper glosses over some of our favorite parts of the Recovery.gov saga: That the government cut hardware spending by handing the technical reigns over to Amazon.com to host; that it spent $9.5 million to redesign the site; and on the upside, got 3,000 hits per second immediately after it launched.

Oh, yeah, and remember when Vice President Joe Biden forgot the "website number?"

And we don't know much about FederalRecovery.gov, since it's mainly for government employees. But note that this supposedly important website doesn't function in Apple's Safari or Google's Chrome Web browsers.

Regardless, if you want to read a somewhat hyperbolic account of a fairly mundane topic, Recovery.gov (or Amazon.com, rather) has the PDF.

-- Mark Milian
twitter.com/markmilian

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Photo: Vice President Joe Biden is a major proponent of Recovery.gov, despite forgetting its "website number." Credit: Associated Press

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