WASHINGTON, DC –The Sunlight Foundation was joined today by nearly 30 organizations in calling on House and Senate members to support the Earmark Transparency Act (H.R. 5258 and S. 3335), legislation introduced last month in both chambers. This legislation would strengthen the public’s ability to know how lawmakers are directing federal spending by requiring Congress to create a centralized, online, searchable database for all earmark requests. The signatories to the letters sent to lawmakers today range in mission and ideology, representing the broad interest in creating accountability for the earmarking process. The full text of the letters sent today to members of Congress and the entire list of signatories is available at: http://sunlightfoundation.com/policy/documents/cosponsors-earmark-transparency-act/
“We urge lawmakers to cosponsor the Earmark Transparency Act because it will finally provide an increased level of public access to the earmark process appropriate for the Internet age,” said Ellen Miller, executive director and co-founder of the Sunlight Foundation.
Currently, information on earmarks is scattered across more than 559 websites. To remedy that, the Earmark Transparency Act would require Congress to post a public searchable website that lists all earmark requests, including detailed information such as the bill in which the request is made, who originally asked the lawmaker to make the spending request, the amount of the earmark request and more. This allows anyone to search, sort, aggregate, and download all available earmark information to better determine whether lawmakers are using earmarks to meet pressing needs or reward political supporters. The bill also requires the disclosure of additional information, including whether the earmark recipients are for-profit, non-profit or governmental bodies.
Sunlight has long advocated for technological solutions to ensure that earmarks reflect the public interest. It formally proposed an online, searchable database of earmark request disclosures in March of 2008 in its Transparency in Government Act, posted to its PublicMarkup.org website (http://publicmarkup.org/bill/transparency-government-act-2008-revised/1/104/).
The Sunlight Foundation is a non-partisan non-profit that uses cutting-edge technology and ideas to make government transparent and accountable. Visit SunlightFoundation.com to learn more about Sunlight’s projects, including TransparencyData.com and Party Time.