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Policy

The Sunlight Foundation's policy team is helping to create a more open, transparent government.

Our policy work joins issue expertise with an open, innovative approach to advocacy, bringing technology to analysis and lobbying, and adding substantive detail to our vision for digitally empowered governance and citizenship.

Featured Resource

Real-Time Disclosure - One Simple Fix for a More Informed Public

As a result of the recent decision by the Supreme Court in McCutcheon v. FEC, Congress should enact legislation to mandate near real-time disclosure of hard money contributions to parties and candidates, so that citizens can better gauge whether their elected officials are representing their interests or special moneyed interests. Transparency’s impact is diminished when information about campaign funding is delayed by weeks or months. A less informed public and less accountable system may be the goal of opponents of more disclosure, but it is unacceptable in the Internet era where information about everything other than government is publicly available everywhere, with the tap of a screen or click on a mouse. Congress should enact legislation that increases disclosure to inform the electorate, deter corruption and the appearance of corruption, and aid enforcement. Legislation should also extend the 48-hour notification period, guaranteeing that significant donations are recorded in near real-time. Campaign finance disclosure laws, which have been around for 100 years, require periodic updates to reflect changes that take place in campaigning, fundraising and technology. We are at a period of the perpetual campaign, where fundraising is focused a tiny, super-wealthy portion of the electorate and in which technology allows us to have information available in real-time. Our disclosure laws must reflect modern realities if they are to adequately serve voters’ right to information about who is paying for our elections. Disclosure of large contributions online, in real time, is a necessary, obvious and simple update. As Mitch McConnell, no friend to campaign finance laws, once noted, "We need to have real disclosure... why would a little disclosure be better than a lot of disclosure?" It’s time for a lot of disclosure.

Policy Issue Areas

  • Federal

    Our federal level advocacy is focused on a number of important issues ranging from open data, to campaign finance disclosure and lobbying reform. We push for changes in Congress and the executive branch by proposing policy changes, conducting research and oversight activities, providing comments, meeting with staff and testifying at hearings. For more information on this agenda, see the Federal Policy page.

  • International

    At the global level, our goal is to engage open government activists and provide them resources to increase government transparency and accountability in their countries. We do so by expanding consensus on international norms for transparency; strengthening national-level non-governmental organizations (NGOs) as advocates for local change; and serving as a hub in the network of international transparency practitioners. For more information on this agenda, see our International Policy page.

  • State and Local

    The state and local team actively monitors and supports existing open data and accountability initiatives, researches case studies, supports best practices and proposes new policies. We're especially interested in seeing how open data can contribute to a better understanding of the money in politics, improved knowledge of government services and transactions, and improved access to government processes and decision-makers for all citizens. For more information on this agenda, see our State and Local Policy page.

View all policy documents