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
Review the Personal Financial Disclosure System
The Government Accountability Office (GAO) must satisfy its statutory obligation to review the personal financial disclosure system created under the Ethics in Government Act.
In 1989, the Ethics Reform Act formalized that obligation by requiring GAO to “regularly … conduct a study to determine whether the provisions of this title [the Financial Disclosure Requirement of Federal Personnel] are being carried out effectively.” Between 1989 and 1994, GAO carried out nine studies. In the 17 years since, GAO has released only a single report on this topic, and that was at Congress’ request.
GAO oversight is essential to preserving an effective disclosure system for personal assets. Federal personal financial disclosure requirements were created to promote accountability in high-level officials in all three branches of government. The law requires officials to publicly report financial interests and activities in order to avoid conflicts of interest and promote trust in government.
GAO should evaluate whether the executive, legislative, and judicial branches are meeting their obligations to publicly release personal financial disclosure information, whether the systems put in place could be improved to allow real time online public access to information, while easing the burden on filers, and whether the law itself should be updated to ensure it captures potential conflicts of interest.