Recent Sunlight Foundation Press Releases
November 18, 2013 —
WASHINGTON, DC — The Sunlight Foundation today filed its first ever Freedom of Information Act lawsuit. Sunlight is filing suit against the General Services Administration because the GSA is six months behind on a FOIA request for federal government contract information maintained by the website FedBizOpps.gov.
"We are pursuing litigation as a way to support the work of Sunlight's technology arm, Sunlight Labs. The information we are requesting will give more oversight to how government contracts are bid, awarded and managed," said Ginger McCall, federal policy manager at the Sunlight Foundation.
October 29, 2013 —
WASHINGTON, DC — The Sunlight Foundation today is re-introducing a popular website that allows anyone to learn more about how legislation is made in Washington, D.C. OpenCongress.org, which was conceived and developed by the Participatory Politics Foundation and funded by the Sunlight Foundation, is now solely a project of the Sunlight Foundation.
OpenCongress.org is a free, open source and nonpartisan tool that gives users a front row seat on how bills are made, as well as connecting them to like-minded individuals. As the new, sole operator of the website, Sunlight refreshed OpenCongress so that it provides that most accurate, accessible information about members of the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate, the federal legislation they write and the workings of Congress.
August 22, 2013 —
WASHINGTON, DC — The Sunlight Foundation selected seven recipients for our first round of OpenGov Grants. This funding supports open source projects that use technology to make government more open and accountable. The seven projects receiving a one-time OpenGov Grant in the range of $5,000 to $10,000 are:
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Sunlight Foundation in the News
The New York Times —
Last week, the S.E.C. unwisely removed from its regulatory agenda a plan to consider a rule to require public companies to disclose their political spending — even though the case for disclosure is undeniable. Basic investor protection requires that shareholders know how corporate executives are spending shareholder money. Good corporate governance requires that companies are transparent about their use of corporate resources. Shareholders know this and have demanded disclosure.
The Washington Post —
Much remains to be settled, but this measure could avoid the mismanagement the IRS displayed in its scrutiny of tea party groups and help staunch the tide of “dark money,” or contributions from secret donors, into campaigns.
Because the IRS does not require them to publicly identify their donors, these organizations have become a favorite vessel for channeling hidden campaign contributions. About $322 million was poured into campaigns by these social welfare groups in the 2012 cycle. One of the major players was Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS, but there were liberal groups as well — all attempting to hide from voters who was donating.
Yet the rules should be framed to ensure that these groups remain devoted to what they were intended to be, social welfare organizations, and not just surrogates for contributors who don’t want to be named. The gladiators in campaign politics must be barred from this arena.
The Deseret News (Utah) —
News reports this week revealed that CGI Group, the company hired to create the healthcare.gov website, has a long trail of problems related to government contracts. These problems should have come to light before the government chose CGI for the job, but there never was any bidding process in the way familiar to many private sector, and even government, contractors. Fox News reported the company was one of 16 that had been pre-qualified to bid, and that it was one of four that actually submitted bids.
An investigator with the Sunlight Foundation, a watchdog group in Washington, told Fox News that companies doing business with government generally just have to get a foot in the door. “Once you’ve got your foot in the door, even if they don’t do a great job, you end up getting relied upon because (the government) has no one else to turn to.”
The Lincoln Journal Star —
There’s always tension between the need to keep government open to public view and the need to keep private some information on individuals.
That line was crossed mistakenly this year when the Environmental Protection Agency disclosed information about livestock operations.
The EPA admitted its mistake, and asked advocacy groups to return the information. They complied.
Unfortunately, some members of Congress are overreacting to the incident. The House version of the farm bill contains provisions that go too far in prohibiting the release of information.
The attempt has drawn opposition from a coalition of more than 40 organizations dedicated to protecting the public’s right to know, including the Society for Professional Journalists, the Sunlight Foundation and the American Library Association.
The Detroit Free Press —
Jackson incorporated the Michigan Community Education Fund on Sept. 26. Over the course of the next month, the nonprofit donated at least $149,000 to the Detroit Forward super PAC, making it the PAC’s single largest donor, responsible for 36% of the $413,750 that the PAC had raised, according to a Detroit Forward representative. And while super PACs are required to disclose donors, nonprofits like the Michigan Community Education Fund aren’t.
For a donor who doesn’t want a public connection to the Napoleon campaign, it’s a convenient dodge. And for voters who want to understand who’s paying for political campaigns, the trail goes dead.
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