Congress and the Executive Branch should focus on making the work of lobbyists and other paid influencers more transparent.
Money in Politics Disclosure
To uncover the levers of access and influence in Congress and the White House, real time online disclosure of money in politics must become the standard.
- Enact Legislation to Disclose Dark Money in Elections
- Appoint FEC Commissioners Committed to Transparency
- The IRS Should Tighten and Enforce Rules Regarding Electioneering Activities of Nonprofits
- The SEC Should Require Companies to Disclose Political Spending
- Improve the FCC's Political File Database
- Mandate Disclosure of Tax Returns and Bundlers by Presidential Candidates
- Enact Legislation to Disclose Corporate Political Spending to Shareholders
- Require Senators to Electronically File Campaign Finance Disclosure Reports
There is a wealth of government data that must be made accessible to the public.
- Create an Index of Federal Agencies' Major Datasets
- Enact the Public Online Information Act
- Enact the Access to Congressionally Mandated Reports Act
- Make Congressional Research Service Reports Publicly Available
- Implement the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act
- Adopt FOIA Reforms
- Review the Personal Financial Disclosure System
- Report Earmark Requests from Congress Online
Adopt FOIA Reforms
Agencies should be encouraged to adopt FOIA reforms that reflect a presumption of openness, and agencies should be directed to join the FOIA Portal.
The administration should ensure that all agencies adopt regulations that reflect a presumption of openness to FOIA requests. Agencies should not promulgate regulations that mislead requesters about whether records exist nor issue new hurdles to requesters that provide an excuse for the agency to deny requests.
The administration should also encourage all agencies to use the new “FOIA Portal” launched by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Commerce Department. Widespread adoption of the portal will result in cost savings and greater efficiencies, as the portal will enable agencies to receive, monitor and process electronically filed FOIA requests. Requesters can use the portal to search and retrieve records previously released under FOIA. Transparency would be improved because released documents would be available to the general public, rather than just the requester.
The portal will be markedly less useful to the public if only a few agencies participate, and agencies’ receptiveness to FOIA requests will continue to vary if they do not receive a strong directive from the White House that transparency in the FOIA process is a priority that can be partly satisfied by using the new portal.