Today, Sunlight is launching a new online collaborative, legislative initiative at a new site: PublicMarkup.org. We have drafted what we think can become model transparency legislation for the government — the Transparency In Government Act of 2008 — and we now need your help to further shape, refine and edit it. Our hope is that the final product can be used as a model for transparent government.
The bill on PublicMarkup.org offers some initial thinking about updating current congressional disclosure requirements for the Internet age. It specifies technological and reporting requirements to make more information about lawmakers and their influencers, the work of Congress and of the executive branch meaningfully accessible to the public, with an emphasis on digitizing and publishing congressional information online. Several of the provisions are the direct result of the Open House Project, and the conversations and ideas that have grown out of it.
Developing this model bill via PublicMarkup.org offers an exciting opportunity to experiment with collaborative bill-drafting online. As this is our first stab at creating such comprehensive transparency legislation, we want others to tell us if we aren’t being aggressive enough, or are too aggressive in our initial approach to these issues. For example, should we have included a requirement mandating daily filing (not monthly) for lobbyists? Part our team thinks that if lobbyists aren’t required to file daily, then citizens will often know after the fact about who was being lobbied about what. What do you think?
This is not an academic exercise – we hope to find sponsors for the legislation when it is completed. It is also a chance to start a dialogue about the specifics of government-wide transparency reform. Since PublicMarkup combines public participation with a substantial legislation, we expect lawmakers and staff who work on these issues to be aware of the conversations dealing with the issues they work on, so commenting on this bill is great opportunity to have your ideas considered.
See you online at PublicMarkup.org!