It is a bittersweet day for us here at National Priorities Project. While we are in festive holiday mood, and have lots of organizational accomplishments to be proud of from 2014 (did we mention we were nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize!?!), we are also saddened that today is the last day that we’ll have our beloved colleague, Becky Sweger, in the office. Becky has been with NPP for nearly four years, has contributed hugely to our work, and has played a pivotal role in elevating NPP’s work in a few key areas.
Becky’s work on data transparency is widely praised. Her recent presentation to a Treasury Board hearing was heralded for its unique representation of the data needs of the vast majority of Americans “outside the Beltway”. And her contributions to the NPP website are remarkable even though you may not see them. Not only have her tireless and meticulous data updates powering popular NPP data tools like the federal priorities database improved the substance of NPP’s work, but her aesthetic vision has also led NPP consistently toward a cleaner, meaner and more user-friendly website.
Certainly the jewel in the crown of Becky’s work at NPP is the truly amazing State Smart data site that tracks federal funds in and out of each state. When the Census Bureau shut down its important Consolidated Federal Funds Report (CFFR), researchers, policy-makers, and analysts across the nation were left high and dry, having lost a critical resource. Becky wrestled key data components, cleared numerous bureaucratic hurdles, and worked with her fellow NPP researchers and then our expert Web developer to roll out a huge multi-year data set with a beautiful and very user-friendly interface. This resource will remain as a legacy to Becky’s time here at NPP. As we continuously update this dataset over the coming years, we’ll continue to appreciate the foundation she laid (while enjoying a smile or two as we see remnants of her work and her playful spirit still bearing the early “fifty-nifty” label that was State Smart’s early working name).
While we will miss Becky the researcher, data-whiz, and passionate advocate for government transparency, it is Becky the wonderful person, friend, music-lover, and colleague that we will miss the most. While we are proud that Becky is moving into an exciting role that is a natural extension of her work at NPP, today, especially, we are sad to be losing her.