As my colleague John Wonderlich wrote here, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced her intention to put House office expenditures online. Now we hear that the Senate may be following the House’s lead and posting their expenditures soon as well. It would be great to see the technology reticent Senate follow the House’s lead, and we would hope to see the Senate take the idea one step further and publish their Statements of Disbursements in a searchable, downloadable format, as we called for in our Transparency in Government Act. Only then will citizens have access to a full and detailed accounting of how Members spend the taxpayer funds that they receive to run their offices.
Making this information available online should raise nothing more than a few perfunctory objections from old school senators. The information is supposed to be public already, albeit in four-pound tomes available only in federal depository libraries. At Sunlight, we always say that “public means online.” By taking the simple step of making disbursements available on the Internet, the Senate would demonstrate that, as an institution, it is starting to get our message.