Sunlight on Earmarks

Aug. 16, 2013, 5:12 p.m.


An earmark is a directed spending request made by a lawmaker in an appropriations or other spending bill. Recent disclosure changes, beginning in 2006, made earmarks far more transparent. The missing piece is a centralized format on the web for collecting, storing and distributing to the public information about earmark requests. The Earmark Transparency Act will finish the job and open the process to public scrutiny instead of a ban that would push such requests into the shadows.

While earmarks account for a very small portion of the total discretionary spending budget, they are linked to a high number of congressional scandals. Transparency in earmark spending is necessary to ensure an accountable government.