Back in the last Congress, Sen.Tom Coburn, the Senate’s “earmark sheriff,” was chair of the Senate Subcommittee on Government Relations. From that position he sent letters to various federal agencies requesting they review the earmarks Congress inserted into their budgets. Coburn asked specifically how the agencies managed the earmarks, and whether they fit into the various agencies’ goals and missions.
Coburn’s office has received the various reports, according to CQ, and the senator and his staff are underwhelmed. It became apparent that the bureaucracies didn’t relish the task he had assigned. For one thing, the agencies had to designate personnel and spend significant funds to complete the research. Undoubtedly more pertinent, however, is that the agencies apparently pulled punches out of a reticence to offend any single member of Congress. “Agency heads are often reluctant to criticize the hand that feeds them,” Coburn’s press secretary is quoted as saying. “We weren’t pleased with the level of openness.”
We’re hoping that the Senator’s office — in the spirit of openness — will make those reports available to all.
Update: KA writes:
FYI, almost all of the reports that Senator Coburn’s staff received from the IG’s on earmarks are available on the IG websites.
There were some correspondence that was not released. But, if it was a full report, the IG put it up.