Sunlight's policy team prepares testimony, briefings, and presentations that elucidate our policy proposals.
On August 3, 2011, the Sunlight Foundation sent a letter to the House and Senate Leadership that urged that the new Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction operate in a transparent and accountable manner.
Policy Director John Wonderlich testifies before the House Energy and Commerce Committee Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations regarding the white house visitor logs as a tool for transparency. He begins with, "This disclosure loophole should be fixed, but the visitor logs only capture visitors to the White House complex. Visitor log records will probably never encompass off-site meetings, phone calls, or emails. The most serious limitation of the visitor logs is that they only cover visitors. For comprehensive disclosure of who is influencing the White House, the visitor logs are not the best tool for the job, even if they are the primary tool at our disposal."
Executive Director Ellen Miller testifies before the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee on Technology, Information Policy, Intergovernmental Relations, and Procurement Reform. She explains the importance of acknowledging the inherent value of government transparency, but that this acknowledgement is not in itself sufficient. "Transparency initiatives must now yield information that is accurate, complete and useful." She walks through the flawed data underneath USASpending.gov and the challenge of imposing useful unique ids.
Executive Director Ellen Miller testifies before the full House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform regarding transparency and accountability in federal spending. After identifying Sunlight's established role as a proponent of improved federal spending transparency, she begins, "Federal spending is a vital part of a transparent and accountable government. We are just beginning to see the benefits of online transparency as it applies to government spending. Only recently have the web tools been built and datasets released online that have begun to publicly illuminate government spending. For example, we developed a website, InfluenceExplorer.com, that displays federal contracts right alongside political contributions, lobbying activities, and contractor misconduct reports. "
Policy Counsel Daniel Schuman testifies before the House Committee on Appropriations Subcommittee on Legislative Branch regarding transparency, funding for CRS, and bulk access to THOMAS legislative data. He explains that CRS products help frame public debate on important issues and have been cited numerous times in major newspapers over the course of the last two years. The frequency of CRS citations underscores the importance of providing public access to these documents. Legislative language ties CRS' hands, prohibiting the agency from spending any funding on publishing products to a wider audience, and should be changed. Public access to bulk THOMAS data is also an important component of improving government transparency, as research has shown that many adults download or read legislation. Advanced search capabilities would facilitate public access to legislation and ability to manipulate the data in order to gain further insights from it.
An in-depth look at House staff employment trends over the last quarter century.
As the mid-term elections are in full swing, this primer outlines the changed landscape of political spending and influence and describes provisions that must be included in future transparency legislation in order to shed more light on the true sources of the spending. In addition, for those not fully versed in campaign finance disclosure lingo, definitions for key terms are included at the end of this document.
Organizations and individuals ask Congress to tell CRS and GPO to publish the legal treatise Constitution Annotated online in XML as it is updated.
After an election, each new Congress rewrites the House Rules, which regulate all activities of the House of Representatives. This moment provides a singular opportunity to make Congress more transparent, ethical and responsive to the public.
While recent reforms have created more disclosure than ever before, congressional transparency reforms must be considered an imperative for congressional leadership. And the robust use of technology can make disclosure into a better ethics enforcer, a more effective educator and a strong arbiter of public policy. The House must redouble its commitment to transparency, and deepen the relationship between constituents and representatives.