House, Senate Agree on Federal Spending Database; Bill Must Still Pass House


The House and Senate have agreed on a version of S. 2590, the Coburn-Obama database bill. The press release indicates that the publicly available database that the legislation will create will include both federal contracts and grants (an earlier House bill, Blunt-Davis, would have disclosed grants but not contracts). The bill still has to pass the House, but it looks like it’s moving forward. Here’s the release:

WASHINGTON—House Majority Whip Roy Blunt (Mo.), U.S. Senators Tom Coburn (Okla.), Barack Obama (Ill.), and Tom Carper (Del.), and Government Reform Chairman Tom Davis (Va.) today announced that they have reached agreement on legislation to increase accountability and transparency by establishing a public database to track federal grants and contracts.

House Majority Leader John Boehner (Ohio) announced he plans to schedule the agreed-upon language for House floor consideration next week.

“This process has focused on enhancing the accountability and transparency in the federal budget process,” Blunt, Boehner, and Davis said. “The federal government awards approximately $300 billion in grants to roughly 30,000 different organizations. Each year, roughly one million contracts exceed the $25,000 reporting threshold. We need to be sure that money is spent wisely. Our legislation creates a transparent system for reviewing these expenditures so that Congress, the press, and the American public have the information they need to conduct proper oversight of the use of our tax dollars. The package we’ve agreed to move requires the Administration to establish searchable databases for both grants and contracts.”

“I’m pleased that the House leadership agreed with us that all federal spending should be accessible through this website. It doesn’t matter if it’s a grant, an earmark, or a contract, this legislation will allow the public to know how their tax dollars are being spent,” said Sen. Obama

“This bill is a small but significant step toward changing the culture in Washington. Only by fostering a culture of openness, transparency and accountability will Congress come together to address the mounting fiscal challenges that threaten our future prosperity. The group that deserves credit for passing this bill, however, is not Congress, but the army of bloggers and concerned citizens who told Congress that transparency is a just demand for all citizens, not a special privilege for political insiders. Their remarkable effort demonstrates that our system of government does work when the people take the reins of government and demand change,” Dr. Coburn said.

“I’m pleased that we’ve been able to work out an agreement to let this important legislation move to a vote in the House,” said Sen. Carper. “If we’re going to hold the federal government accountable for its performance, then we need to empower the public with basic information about who’s receiving federal dollars and what’s being done with them. This bill will shed some much-needed light on the activities of most federal agencies, allowing the public to decide for themselves whether their tax dollars are well spent.”

On June 21, the House unanimously passed HR 5060, the Blunt-Davis grants database bill. The Senate unanimously passed S 2590, the Coburn-Obama grants and contracts database bill, yesterday.

We may well get to see the receipts from the government’s shopping sprees — just as the Founders intended. This from a post by Larry Kudlow at the Corner:

“We might hope to see the finances of the Union as clear and intelligible as a merchant’s books, so that every member of Congress and every man of any mind in the Union should be able to comprehend them, to investigate abuses, and consequently to control them.” -Thomas Jefferson