Blogs and Federal Spending Database

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It looks like Ellen beat me to posting about Sen. Coburn’s hearings on a federal spending database. Aside from the bill’s co-sponsors Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) and OMB’s Gary Bass, blogger/journalist Mark Tappscott gave testimony as well. Tappscott, who blogs at Tappscott’s Copy Desk, voiced his support for the bill, and in his written statement declared his belief that a database of federal spending could start a new generation of blogs devoted to monitoring different issue areas.

I believe the effect of the FFATA federal spending database would be even more significant on new media, especially the Blogosphere. As you know, bloggers are fulfilling an increasingly important role in the American public policy arena, often providing detailed news and analyses before mainstream media outlets are able to do so.

I have no doubt there will be many, perhaps hundreds of blogs created specifically to analyze and track federal spending within specific issue areas and industries. These blogs will be associated with private citizens, non-profit advocacy groups and even consultants and executives with companies bidding for federal contracts.

The result will be a vastly more well-informed citizenry, a public policy debate informed by much more accurate and extensive knowledge of government policies and programs and a more effective targeting of our society’s resources. Just as politicians and political campaign professionals soon learned they could not afford to ignore OpenSecrets.org, I have no doubt that politicians, government contractors and lobbyists will soon learn that they cannot ignore blogs made possible by FFATA, at least one of which will probably be called something like SpendingSecrets.org.

Ed Morrisey spent the afternoon live-blogging the hearing. He doesn’t think that Tapscott had enough time to discuss the potential impact of this proposed database on citizen muckraking and the blogosphere.

Tapscott is right that there is a real thirst among citizens who want to know what is going on in their government and need the tools to do the investigating themselves. This database would go a long way in helping. Maybe we could one day make government as transparent as this suit.

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