The latest iteration of USASpending.gov, which combines all the virtues of clunky design with the frustrations of diminished functionality, is a reminder for this writer of the early days of the Sunlight Foundation.Continue reading
A GAO report on the subpar spending data available at USASpending.gov confirms the findings of Sunlight's Clearspending project — and highlights the need for spending data standards.Continue reading
The controversial online consumer complaint database launched by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) in March escaped the budget axe for now, according to House legislative language released today.
The database had been targeted by freshman Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-Kansas, who in February attached a successful amendment (H.Amdt.159) to the appropriations bill to defund the database. Pompeo's top campaign contributor is Kansas-based Koch Industries, which had lobbied on the database when the legislation to create it was debated, as we reported last month. His chief of staff, Mark Chenoweth, formerly worked for Koch Industries and was chief ...Continue reading
Slate’s Dave Weigel has a really interesting take on why the omnibus spending bill just stalled in the Senate: The... View ArticleContinue reading
When Congress passed and the president signed into law the Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act of 2006 (two years... View ArticleContinue reading
The Reason Foundation has been getting the presidential candidates to talk more about transparency on the campaign trail by asking them to sign a pledge to run a transparent administration and fully enforce the Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act of 2006, also known as Coburn-Obama. The FFATA requires the Office of Management and Budget to disclose all federal funding contracts, grants, and earmarks in a searchable database. The Sunlight Foundation was a part of a coalition of groups that worked to pass the bill, in particular working to out the Senator with a secret hold on the bill. So far, three candidates - Barack Obama, Ron Paul, and Sam Brownback - have signed the pledge. It's great to see transparency taking a hold as an issue in the 2008 presidential election. Hopefully, we'll hear from more candidates on the issue soon. For now, check out below for the statements made by the three pledge signees.Continue reading
Last night the Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act passed both Houses of Congress on voice votes. This is a great victory for transparency in government and for the beginning of the end to the "Closed Door" government. Contracts and grants will be listed in this online searchable database so that all Americans can keep track of the government's spending. I certainly hope that transparent government will help reduce the distrust in government that exists among such a large portion of America. As Sen. Tom Coburn's website reads: "Transparency is the foundation of all accountability." But this victory, one that is especially sweet for the online community, should not be claimed to be something that it is not.Continue reading
Update: The bill passes and the Senate agrees, next stop President Bush's desk.
The House version of the Coburn-Obama online contracts and grants database is set to pass today. Sen. Tom Coburn's office just sent out an announcement that Coburn, Sen. Barack Obama, Rep. Roy Blunt, Rep. Tom Davis, and OMB Deputy Director for Management Clay Johnson will "pledge immediate action to implement the grants and contracts database included in the Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act." This news conference will be held at 2 p.m. tomorrow in room HC-7 of the Capitol. Kudos to all groups and bloggers that have supported this bill and continue to push for greater transparency in Congress.
Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) wasn't alone in placing a hold on the Coburn-Obama transparency bill. Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.), who along with Stevens is a notorious earmarker, also had a hold on the bill. Byrd, however, has announced that he will lift his hold. TPM Muckraker has the scoop and the rest of this statement from Byrd's office:
Senator Byrd wanted time to read the legislation, understand its implications, and see whether the proposal could be improved. Now that there has been time to better understand the legislation, Senator Byrd has released his hold. Senator Byrd believes that the bill should be debated and opened for amendment, and not pushed through without discussion.
UPDATE: Stevens unmasks himself! Looks like there will be no surprises in the search for the "secret hold" Senator. A consensus is forming that the chief suspect, Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska), is blocking the "Google for government contracts" bill out of revenge for Sen. Tom Coburn's (R-Okla.) successful campaign to defeat the "Bridge to Nowhere". The guys at TPM Muckraker, and a helpful reader, have pulled up a Fort Smith (Ark.) Times Record article from Aug. 18th which labels Stevens as the holder. Coburn also accuses Stevens of being the holder. Over at Redstate diarist Erick writes, "Last week, I called every senator's office," except for the five chief cosponsors, and "only one would not give me a definitive "no."" That office was Sen. Stevens' office.Continue reading