In February 2009, Barack Obama showed up at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science to sign the $787 billion federal stimulus package. Since then, anyone who has been stuck behind an army of trucks on I-25, delayed by spates of lane closures on I-70 or winced at the infestation of orange construction signs informing them that "This Project Is Brought to You by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act" has seen that stimulus money in action.
But a report released by the nonprofit Good Jobs First indicates that Colorado is among the national leaders when it comes to the transparency and tracking of funds. In fact, Colorado is ranked fourth overall, meaning citizens here know how, when and where Colorado's $6.7 billion in federal stimulus money is being spent.
This may have been born out of necessity; Colorado was one of sixteen states receiving increased oversight on stimulus spending from the U.S. Government Accountability Office. Regardless, Mayor John Hickenlooper and city Auditor Dennis Gallagher are touting the state's accomplishments during the Mountains and Plains Intergovernmental Audit Forum, which began Thursday and runs today as well.
The sold-out event highlights the state's easily maneuverable and comprehensive website, www.colorado.gov/recovery, providing data on the categories of spending, geographic allocation of spending, interactive project maps showing where the money is being put to work, and details about who is working on it.
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Denver is using the money to expand health care and provide loans for small businesses, although it is using the biggest portion, about $118 million, to extend unemployment benefits, according to the website.