According to Fortune magazine, most Paycheck Protection Program loan recipients remain unnamed. As the global economy enters into a recession, we must restore democratic oversight over how this stimulus money is used. Thanks to the work at Accountable.US as they have pored over SEC filings to elucidate where American taxpayers' have gone, we have created a Chrome Extension that will help people around the world judge whether companies that received PPP bailouts really deserve their patronage.
What it does
CovidAccountable looks through a webpage and searches for company names that match that received PPP funding. Company names that have a hit in this database get highlighted where the user can learn about how much the company has reaped from the PPP.
How we built it
COVIDAccountable runs on Google Chrome. We wrote a custom script that uses regex to read through a webpage DOM and identify the names of corporations that received COVID-19 funding. The tooltip that occurs over the word when generated uses the tipped tooltip library (https://www.tippedjs.com). Corporation data is sourced from Accountable.us data on Trump bailout (https://www.trumpbailouts.org/small-businesses/?fbclid=IwAR3wjOLPg8FgoDRcoDY9sB5_S4l1RM-yb-WqoGWPnb-oZGf6JzAGszfQ744)
Challenges we ran into
Finding PPP lender Information
We thank Accountable.US for their work in amassing this research together as without it, this project would not have been possible. However, even finding this information was difficult. As such, the importance of this project is of even more importance as we must hold our government accountable to ensuring fair access to PPP funds.
Computer Science curricula are much more focused on theory than on the latest of user interface. Consequently, it took quite some experimentation and research to get a good library working. Hans had prior experience with the Tooltipster library, but we eventually went for the Tipped library instead.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
As we approach an election year, it is extremely important that we understand how our government has managed the COVID-19 pandemic, both in epidemiological management and in economic support for the general population. As this government has obscured efforts to understand how PPP money has been used, we're proud of our steps to unveil this thus-opaque process.
What we learned
- Chrome Extension development
- UI with the Tipped library
What's next for CovidAccountable
We hope to train name-entity recognition models that will be able to distinguish company names from other names, e.g. suppose a company were called Ananas, we would want to pick up the company name Ananas, but not pineapples on Wikipedia.