When the Texas Water Development Board received $326 million of federal stimulus funds, the agency knew it would come under intense scrutiny from the public, government and media. Accountability is a key part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
The TWDB created a website to explain the ARRA program, but it was nine months out of date by the time funds began to be distributed for 45 water and wastewater projects.
The TWDB realized the website needed an urgent overhaul and update so that citizens, funding recipients and lawmakers could easily find information about where the money was going.
LRPR planned and helped execute an outreach campaign to educate ARRA funding recipients about the requirements involved in using such funds. The campaign included development of a recipient handbook, PowerPoint presentation and site visits with question-and-answer sessions.
After coordinating the road show, LRPR helped revamp the TWDB ARRA “sitelet,” a smaller site within the main TWDB website. An interactive map and engaging graphics were created to show how ARRA funds are being used. The interactive map zooms into each location to show details of over 100 construction projects: contract details, estmated completion dates and in many cases, photographs. Bar graphs display the amount of funds released and the number of jobs funded.
The web site also gives the Environmental Protection Agency direct access to metrics on individual projects, an innovation that won plaudits from EPA for streamlining the reporting process. Online access to up-to-date information saves time and money for the Texas Water Development Board and EPA.
The ARRA-TWDB website began as a text-heavy and hard-to-navigate site. We revamped it into an easy-to-use and informative site that set a new standard for state accountability to EPA and taxpayers about how stimulus funds are being used. It provides timely information to the public on the progress of water projects across the state, and the Texas Water Development Board’s dispensation of stimulus funds.
The EPA applauded the online reporting process for its ability to streamline access to timely data.