Transparency and openness are the foundations for public trust in government. Without the former, the latter cannot survive. The Internet is making increased transparency cheaper, more effective, and in more in demand every day as Americans come to expect instantaneous and constant access to all kinds of information. Given the rapid technological advances in how information can be captured, stored, analyzed and shared, the Sunlight Foundation believes it is time to update and expand government’s transparency mandate.
Our federal level advocacy is focused on a number of important issues ranging from open data, to campaign finance disclosure and lobbing reform. We push for changes in Congress and the executive branch by proposing policy changes, conducting research and oversight activities, providing comments, meeting with staff, and testifying at hearings. Some of our main activities are highlighted below.
- Policy AgendaOur detailed agenda highlights changes that can be made in the executive and legislative branches of federal government. In 2016, we are working to open up the executive branch as President Obama finishes his second term. We are also pushing the 114th Congress to adopt a sweeping and comprehensive set of recommendations to make lobbying, money in politics, and government data more open and transparent.
- Policy One-PagersThe Sunlight Foundation’s legislative and executive branch agendas broadly address areas in which greater transparency is needed to ensure public access to vital government information. They make specific recommendations to improve transparency in lobbying, money in politics and government data.
This collection of one pagers outlines specific opportunities for reform in those areas. They detail proposed legislation, executive orders and other White House action, and agency rules changes.
- Lobbying ReformSunlight works to change lobbying rules so that the public has real-time, online information about who is influencing policy decisions on Capitol Hill. We have drafted The Real-Time Online Lobbying Disclosure Act to show that lobbying transparency can be accomplished.
We also support efforts by members of Congress to reform lobbying disclosure rules. The Lobbying Disclosure Enhancement Act, championed by Rep. Mike Quigley, would significantly increase public knowledge of influence wielding in Washington.
- Disclosing MoneyThe Supreme Court, in its Citizens United decision, opened the door to an unfettered, unregulated influx of money into elections from corporations and labor unions. A first step in addressing the multitude of problems the decision created is disclosure. It is incumbent upon Congress to immediately create a robust, rapid transparency regime that takes full advantage of technology. This requires real-time, online transparency on every level of influence, from independent expenditures to lobbying to bundled campaign contributions.
- The Advisory Committee on TransparencyThe Advisory Committee on Transparency educates policymakers on transparency-related issues, problems, and solutions and shares ideas with members of the Congressional Transparency Caucus. It hosts events to discuss important and wide-ranging transparency policy issues with experts from a variety of backgrounds and develops educational publications and provides timely information to the public and Members of Congress. The Advisory Committee on Transparency is administered and funded by the Sunlight Foundation, with Daniel Schuman serving as its Director. The Advisory Committee is composed of eighteen organizations and individuals who possess diverse political viewpoints and bring broad-based expertise.
- Open Data Guidelines
- Open Data Guidelines for ProcurementThe Sunlight Foundation has created this set of guidelines to help shape how governments release data on their procurement process. More transparency in procurement can reduce corruption, make procurement more efficient and effective, and allow for more accountability.