Grab your magnifying glass: Investigate federal spending with Crosscut

In a free workshop tomorrow, Aug. 17, learn how we dig out the stories buried in recovery funding data.

highway construction

The North Spokane Corridor construction site near Spokane Community College is seen, Monday, July 11, 2022, in Spokane, Wash. The final stretch of the corridor construction reopens old wounds in the city's East Central neighborhood. (Young Kwak for Crosscut)

Even investigative reporters, who usually love a teetering stack of public records or meticulous data, can end up with more information on a topic than they can handle alone. 

Crosscut's WA Recovery Watch team has spent more than seven months mining through thousands of pages of local spending resolutions, budget spreadsheets and audit reports to piece together how federal relief money is cascading through Washington communities.

Now, we have partnered with the government transparency advocates at the Washington Coalition for Open Government to share some of those records at a virtual workshop on Finding Federal Relief Records in WA this Wednesday afternoon. 

We're inviting regional journalists and community advocates to join us for insight into how local agencies track spending, compliance deadlines and potential story ideas buried in federal data. A WashCOG attorney will also share advice on pursuing records and answer technical questions. 

This free workshop will run from 2-3 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 17. Register here

We’re doing this because we want to help readers and fellow reporters find the information that matters to them and their neighbors. We aspire to show how these dollars impact our state's communities, and when it's not quite working.

Amid a surge in federal infrastructure funding, reporter Brandon Block wrote this past week about how highway projects continue to upend neighborhoods of color and how residents of Spokane's East Central neighborhood hope for more say in how future projects affect their lives.

Neighborhood advocates praised a related pilot program offering surplus public land back to the community for development into affordable housing or parks, but also called for a broader reassessment of systemic priorities and historical harms.  

“Success,” one advocate said, “is different outcomes.”

We also unpacked how millions of dollars for expanding the electric vehicle charging grid to rural Washington still faces a number of practical and cultural challenges. A newly released state plan would aim to install chargers every 50 miles along key highways and upgrade utility systems. 

Read the rest of our ongoing Recovery Watch reporting here

If you're ready to start digging into your own local relief spending, you can explore our Follow the Funds reader guide — or join us Wednesday to hear more about our work. Reach out to me at with questions or story ideas on federal recovery funding. 

We will take all the help we can get. 

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