Spend but Verify

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State stimulus spenders beware: New cadres of watchdogs in six states are examining your funding decisions. The Open Society Institute (OSI) recently awarded grants to nonprofit alliances in California, New York, Texas, Wisconsin, Mississippi and Maryland to monitor American Recovery and Reinvestment Act spending, encourage public participation in state-level decision making and advocate for an equitable distribution of funds, the New York-based funder said in mid-November.

Coalitions of multiple nonprofits – including those that work on youth-related causes – each won grants of $500,000 over two years. Another round of grants will be announced next month.

OSI’s Foundation to Promote Open Society will administer the grants, which unite community-based groups with organizations skilled in data collection and policy analysis to scrutinize state-level stimulus spending methods and choices, officials said.

Among the activities planned by grantees are twice-yearly “Accountability Report Cards,” which the Texas coalition will use to check the performance of state and local agencies against other states. The Recovery Watch Maryland Alliance, which includes Baltimore’s Safe and Sound Campaign, will develop criteria to evaluate the state’s Recovery Act funding proposals to advance opportunity across the state. Read more at OSI’s website.