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
Create an Index of Federal Agencies' Major Datasets
All major agency datasets and information holdings should be publicly listed by a central authority in the White House or by each agency. Each dataset listed should include a description of whether it is public or not, and why.
Governments should index their major information holdings online, and publicly determining whether or not to release information. Currently, federal data transparency policy is not comprehensive and can be ignored by agencies. Too often, decisions as to what gets released and how are made by individual departments, outside public view, and without review from the federal CIO or CTO, Congress, or the public.
To determine which datasets must be indexed, agencies threshold definitions should be established. For example, any database with a maintenance cost over a certain number should be listed. Any information specifically described in a statute governing the agency should be described. Any form, report, or data described in the regulations governing the agency should be indexed. Whether the information is usually (or never) accessible via FOIA request should be noted, and whether bulk data is available through a central portal should be spelled out as well.
Only if the public is provided with a comprehensive list of government datasets can appropriate policy decisions be made as to whether the data should be made public.