The House of Representatives voted on a bill to improve the way Inspectors General perform their work monitoring spending in executive branch agencies. Congresswoman Kirsten Gillibrand thought the bill might be improved by adding a provision on transparency. Sunlight helped her find an amendment—already part of a bill Senator McCaskill has introduced—that would require that each agency provide a link on its homepage to its IG’s homepage. The amendment also requires that IG reports are posted in a searchable, sortable, downloadable format and be available online no more than one day after the reports are made public. Another piece of the amendment provides that the IG’s website have a method by which the public can report waste, fraud or abuse in an agency.
This amendment shines light on the important work of Inspectors General and it has the potential to save taxpayer money by allowing the taxpayers themselves to report when they think an agency is engaged in wasteful or improper spending. By offering this common sense amendment, Rep. Gillibrand, who already posts her schedule, her personal financial disclosures, and her earmark requests online, can put another notch in her transparency belt. The amendment passed by voice vote, which means that her colleagues also recognized how important and non-controversial greater transparency is. Hopefully more Members of Congress will follow Ms. Gillibrand’s lead when it comes to making their own work more transparent. Ms. Gillibrand and a handful of other Members know that greater transparency builds trust with their constituents, fosters accountability, and simply improves the way our democratic institutions work.