Here are five areas where the federal government is making major strides in the realm of transparency.Continue reading
Tonight, President Obama will deliver the State of the Union Address to Congress. He is expected to urge the Legislative branch to take action on guns, immigration, climate change and a laundry list of other issues. In order to make progress on the major questions of the day, the President will have to negotiate and compromise with Congress. But, that doesn't mean he can't make progress through other means. A few weeks ago, the Advisory Committee on Transparency heard three ideas that President Obama could consider implementing right away to make the Executive branch more open and transparent. Read on for the videos.Continue reading
How transparent has President Barack Obama's administration been? While the first term seemed to start with several bold initiatives, members of the transparency community have been disappointed with the apparent lack of initiative since then. Panelists gave the administration mixed reviews at the Dec. 3, 2012 Advisory Committee on Transparency event examining what's happened over the past four years and what in store for the next four. Participants in the panel discussion, moderated by Daniel Schuman, policy counsel at the Sunlight Foundation and director of the Advisory Committee on Transparency, had a hard time listing the Obama administration's accomplishments without mentioning caveats in the same breath. Anne Weismann, chief counsel at Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, said the administration's efforts may have been well intended but were not always well executed. The decision to release the White House visitor logs, for example, resulted in more transparency about who is trying to influence the executive branch, but also resulted in some staff taking meetings to coffee shops.Continue reading
By Daniel Schuman and Alisha Green It comes as little surprise to hill watchers that House staff are underpaid compared to their Senate equivalents, let alone executive branch and private sector staff, but we decided to dig a bit deeper. Just in time for the holidays (and those non-existent public sector bonuses) here's a comparison of key positions in the House, Senate, and executive branch. We admit that the data is a bit old, like the Ghost of the War on Christmas Past, but it's the best we can do with what’s available. The shaded areas in the bars for the executive branch staff show a range of potential pay.Continue reading
The Unified Agenda, a list of all the rules federal agencies expect to issue in the upcoming year, was published online this past spring in a new format, in accordance to a new White House directive. We reviewed the Agenda to identify steps each executive branch agency is taking to promote transparency, and the status of the action. Department of Defense:
- Cost and Software Data Reporting - This rule amended the Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement (DFARS) to address requirements for DoD contractors to establish and maintain a cost and software data reporting process under contracts for major defense acquisition - Final Rule, 11/24/10.
- Freedom of Information Act Program Regulation: To ensure appropriate agency disclosure - Final Action proposed for 6/11 (no action taken since 2010).
- Government Support Contractor Access to Technical Data: certain types of Government support contractors to have access to proprietary technical data belonging to prime contractors and other third parties, provided that the technical data owner may require the support contractor to execute a non-disclosure agreement having certain restrictions and remedies - Interim Rule, Comments Due by 5/2/11, Final Action proposed for 8/11.
- Electronic Order Procedures - DOD makes orders available online so that contracts can be issued in an electronic format. Reports must be filed in an electronic format. Final Rule, effective 5/5/11.
- Freedom of Information Act Regulations - DOE is revising its FOIA regulations to reflect current procedures for processing requests for information that are submitted to the Agency, to ensure compliance with the Electronic Freedom of Information Act Amendments of 1996, and to make the regulation more user friendly. - Proposed for 6/11, no action taken since 2008.
- Third Party Auditing - FDA will allow third party entities to conduct food safety audits. The regulation attempts to include protections for disclosure of conflicts of interest when third party entities review third party companies - Proposed Rule Stage
- Transparency Reporting - health insurance plans will be required to make information on claims payment policies, the number of claims denied, data on rating practices and other information as determined by the Secretary available to the public, per regulations in the Affordable Health Care Act - Proposed Rule Stage
- Self imposed restrictions on lobbying - Establishes procedures concerning general prohibitions on lobbying and the use of certain appropriated funds, and the appropriate penalties for violations of those prohibitions. The purpose of the procedures is to ensure that neither the recipients of appropriated funds, nor the employees of DHS inappropriately solicit for action by the Congress. - No final rule issued, comment period closed in 2003.
- Supplementary Ethical Standards - Two significant areas to be addressed by the supplemental regulation are outside employment and the prohibited purchase of Government-owned, seized, or forfeited property by DHS employees. - Notice of Proposed Rulemaking last issued 12/10.
- Freedom of Information Act and Privacy Act Procedures - This action will amend FOIA regulations including provisions governing information subject to Privacy Act exemptions and procedures for verification of the identity persons under the Privacy Act. - No action taken since 2003.
- Freedom of Information Act and Privacy Act Procedures - Updating and revising FOIA procedures - Last Action taken March, 2011 when comment on proposed rule-making stage ended.
- Whistleblower Protections - OSHA will establish protections, burdens of proof, and standard practices and protections for whistleblowers according to new authority in Dodd/Frank bill - Final Rule-making Stage, 9/11.
- Right to Know under Fair Labor Standards Act - Will update the record-keeping regulations under the Fair Labor Standards Act in order to enhance the transparency and disclosure to workers of their status - Proposed Rule Stage 10/11.
This is pretty disheartening. The Obama administration is continuing to use the same arguments the Bush administration used to block... View ArticleContinue reading
On Day Two, President Obama issued new Executive Orders and memoranda — including an Executive Order on Ethics Commitments by... View ArticleContinue reading
In the winter of 2007, in between the two sessions of the 110th Congress, Sen. Trent Lott, an institution in... View ArticleContinue reading
Yesterday, the Inspector General of the Department of the Interior released multiple reports revealing widespread corruption in the Mineral Management... View ArticleContinue reading