If you could treat information about your work the way information about Congress is treated, it would be the equivalent of going into a job interview with a nearly blank resume. A resume is information that a potential employer uses to hire you for a job. And because members of Congress work for us, how can we evaluate their job performance if we don’t have meaningful access to information about what they do and who they do it for?
Congress should put information, which relates to the business of lawmaking, online in real time. All their required filings (such as reports about their personal financial investments and their campaign finance reports) should be posted on the Internet in real time and in a way that people can easily search them. The legislation that lawmakers are going to vote on should be posted online three days before the vote so ordinary people can read and evaluate it. The correspondence between Congress and the executive branch should be put online. Congressional earmarks in both the Senate and the House should be fully disclosed with the who, what, where, and why before they are decided on. (For more information click here.)
These measures – and there are no doubt others — can help create a more open and accountable Congress. The purpose of Sunshine Week is to partake in dialogue about what it means to have an open government and how we can achieve it. The events of the past week are a call to lawmakers to be more transparent and accountable. The image that this week provides is of a united citizenry asking government to be more open so we can trust them again. Let us in because we can help each other run a great nation.