Shovel Ready Stimuli - Part 1 $700,000 Dishwasher?

The list of so-called shovel ready projects approved by the Commonwealth for federal stimulus money is very long. The projects range from the mundane to the absurd. This week Red Mass Group is going to highlight some of the more unusual projects.

Several weeks ago Governor Deval Patrick organized a Project Delivery Task Force to review thousands of projects and determine if they were suitable to receive funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The projects were divided into seven categories: Energy, Educational Facilities, Transportation, Information Technology, Private Development, State Facilities and Municipal Facilities. Each category had its own unique task force to whittle down the list of projects.

According to the Task Force Report the projects were chosen based on the following criteria:

a. Invest for the Long Term. All projects under this program should have a long-term benefit, in
addition to the stimulus effect of putting people back to work now.
b. Limit Impact on Operating Budgets. Prefer investments that will reduce – or at least not add to
– demands on the operating budget.
Mobilization for Federal Economic Recovery Infrastructure Investment Report
Executive Summary
February 2009 Page 6 of 464
c. Follow Established Infrastructure Priorities. Make choices based on the infrastructure
priorities recently approved by the Development Cabinet. See Appendix 1 – Development
Cabinet Infrastructure Priorities for a listing of these priorities.
d. Diversify. Subject to whatever constraints there may be in the Federal Act, identify projects for
funding in a manner that ensures funds will be allocated across a variety of industries and
geographic locations.
e. Buy Massachusetts. To the extent possible, contract with Massachusetts contractors, purchase
goods and services from Massachusetts companies, and hire Massachusetts people.

Today we are highlighting the Education Facilities, Energy, and IT Task Force projects. All task force information comes verbatim from their reports, spelling errors and all; we have not altered it in anyway except for layout.

Task Force: Education Facilities – Universities and Colleges
Project Title: Massachusetts Martime Academy -Dishwasher replacement
Project Description: Repair/replace the existing dishwasher and tray collection system in the dining hall (the only dining facility on campus).
Total Federal Act Request: $700,000.00
City/Town: Buzzards  Bay

The highlight of the all projects so far is the approval of a $700,000 “dishwasher and tray collection system.” I am not sure if it uses Fiji bottled water when cleaning or if it is built by Maytag.
The highlight of the all projects so far is the approval of a $700,000 “dishwasher and tray collection system.” I am not sure if it uses Fiji bottled water when cleaning or if it is built by Maytag.

Task Force: Energy
Project Title: DCAM – Northern Essex Community College – Energy
Project Description: Energy
Total Federal Act Request: $2,807,560
City/Town: Haverhill

Not sure what “Energy” is but apparently it is a project.

Task Force: Energy
Project Title: DCR – Big Belly solar trash compactors
Project Description: Solar powered trash compactors across DCR system to reduce pickup frequency and fuel use
Town Federal Act Request: $21,840,000
City/Town: Multiple

$21 million dollars for fancy garbage cans? Didn’t they try this already with public restrooms?

Task Force: Energy
Project Title: DCR – Green Fishing Initiative
Project Description: Federally coordinated program to identify, develop and promote alternative and/or best fisheries management practices that will: 1) improve efficiencies including reduction of fuel consumption & air & water born pollutants attributable to commercial fishing; 2) reduce environmental impacts; and 3) improve fisheries mgt. practices
Town Federal Act Reserve: $10,000,000
City/Town: Multiple

What Federal piece of legislation comes without some earmark for some expensive wildlife management study?

Task Force: Energy
Project Title: Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts – Sustainability and HVAC upgrades and efficiencies
Project Description: Air conditioning for Venable Theater
Town Federal Act Request: $250,000
City/Town: North Adams

How many people live in North Adams? Five, six?

Task Force: IT
Project Title: Web and Enterprise 2.0
Project Description: The purpose is to enable Mass.Gov to leverage modern social networking technologies to engage citizens and the workforce in the business of goverrning, ensure that government is responsive to the changing needs of its citizens/workforce, and increase government transparency. In addition, we would like to test some innovative “crowdsourcing” approaches to developing enhancements, such as awarding prize money to citizens/students/staff who develop the best civic engagement tools or devise the best ways to “mashup” governtment data for transparency, internal collaboration, or other purposes.
Town Federal Act Request: $3,750,000.00
City/Town: Boston

That is a lot of money for fancy web tools. This has FAIL written all over it.

Task Force: IT
Project Title: Civic Engagement Broadcasting Network
Project Description: This project entails using an initial capital investment to create an interactive TV and web-based network, Civic Engagement Broadcasting Network (CENB), to make the working of Massachusetts government transparent and available on demand and to encourage the civic participation of the citizens delivered by cable television and an interactive website that includes high quality video, both live streams and archived programs.
Town Federal Act Request: $2,500,000.00
City/Town: Boston

I can’t wait for that live stream of the Weston Tolls or the live action cam in the HOV lane.

Task Force: IT
Project Title: Transparency in State Spending
Project Description: Develop a searchable website that allows citizens to review state spending. Initially, VendorWeb will be expanded to allow additional sorts by department and object class in addition to vendor name or vendor code. Concurrent with making basic spending data available will be a more comprehensive analysis of requirements to be the foundation for a more comprehensive presentation of financial data.
Town Federal Act Request: $3,000,000.00
City/Town: Boston

Yeah right. Next.

Task Force: IT
Project Title: Drivers License Project
Project Description: Updating the current process for creating a valid Massachusetts Drivers License will allow for incorporating new fraud avoidance technologies, enhancing electronic document authentication all functions pertaining to Registry business which will aid in facilitating customer service at RMV branch offices reducing wait times. The RMV Driver License Project will replace the current driver license document which has been in use for six years. The policy of the RMV has been to replace these every six years to take advantage of new fraud technologies and also to bring us into compliance with some new federal standards around driver licensing.
Town Federal Act Request: $11,700,000.00
City/Town: Multiple: Boston

Don’t worry, in six months college kids will have found a way to make these licenses in computer labs with Photoshop and a $99 scanner.

Task Force: IT
Project Title: DWD Data Center Backup Replacement / Business Continuity Operation
Project Description: The Department of Workforce Development currently runs a 7×24 data center that has outdated backup technology and no predetermined or equipped backup facility in case of catastrophic failure. This project would replace the current backup technologies, and purchase equipment that would occupy a footprint in the Commonwealth’s planned data center in the Springfield Area.
Total Federal Act Request: $4,200,000.00
City/Town: Boston

7 X 24 = 168…that must be the formula for the average number of vacation days you get at the Department of Workforce Development, right?
What’s that?
Oh, you meant 24/7! Whoops.

Task Force: IT
Project Title: Statewide Transportation Data Centerw
Project Description: Currently all transportation agencies maintain separate data centers: MassHighway Department, Registry of Motor Vehicles, Massachusetts Turnpike Authority, Massachusetts Port Authority, Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority, and the Massachusetts Aeronautics Commission. Supporting the Governor’s vision of a single Transportation entity, this project would consolidate all datacenters into a single facility which would bring us closer to a shared services model taking advantage of the economies of scale of each agency brings.
Total Federal Act Request: $11,800,000.00
City/Town: Boston

Does this surprise anyone?