It’s been a busy day for transparency initiatives. This morning President Obama issued an executive order which will create an 11-member... View ArticleContinue reading
Tomorrow morning I will be testifying before the full House Oversight and Government Reform Committee about the Sunlight Foundation’s work... View ArticleContinue reading
This morning I testified before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform’s Subcommittee on Technology and Information Policy about... View ArticleContinue reading
Hate 'em or love 'em, you almost certainly invested more of your hard earned money into the government last year than you did any other thing in your life. In fact, it's likely that you spent more on government than you did food, clothing and shelter combined. And did you get a receipt for it?Continue reading
In October 2006, Sunlight grantee OMB Watch set up FedSpending.org, a free, searchable database of federal government spending. Subsequent updates have allowed public access to approximately $16.8 trillion in federal government spending, with complete annual data from FY 2000 through FY 2006 and partial data available for FY 2007. The site was so successful that the Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act of 2006 (FFATA) set up USASpending.gov within the Office of Management and Budget, which Congresspedia dubbed "the ‘Google' of federal spending" by bringing tremendous transparency to how and where government spends tax dollars. As the site says, it's searchable and accessible by the public for free, and includes for each federal award:
1. The name of the entity receiving the award;
2. The amount of the award;
3. Information on the award including transaction type, funding agency, etc;
4. The location of the entity receiving the award; and
5. A unique identifier of the entity receiving the award.
U.S. Sens. Tom Coburn and Barack Obama, the original sponsors of the FFATA in 2006, recognize there is more to be done. Moments ago, Coburn and Obama introduced the Strengthening Transparency and Accountability in Federal Spending Act of 2008 (S. 3077), which would require the federal government to go beyond summary data on contracts it currently posts.
Via National Journal's CongressDaily (subscription only) comes word that the Appropriations Committee has released lists of earmarks along with two bills (I've appended them to this post):
The House Appropriations Committee today took its first official steps to disclose pet projects in FY08 spending bills, revisiting the Interior-Environment and Financial Services measures to add the earmarks in advance of floor action next week. Now that Republicans got their wish, they are seeing the fruits of their efforts up close. Their own projects are being squeezed both by House Appropriations Chairman Obey's decree of a 50 percent total reduction in earmarked projects as well as being on the receiving end of a 60-40 split between the majority and minority they have not experienced in a dozen years. Continue reading
We've gotten some great feedback on planning the next round of our Congressional Family Business investigation, both from inside the office, from some of the folks who made the first round such a success, and from some smart observers (thanks to David Cohn for posting that at Digg!). We're starting to design phase two now (what this means in practice is that I get to keep bothering our Sunlight Labs geniuses with questions that begin with cringe-inducing phrases like, "How quickly could you..." or "How hard would it be to..." or "Would it be possible to..."). I'm really excited about round two; and even though we won't be able to incorporate all the excellent suggestions we've gotten right away, this step will include some of your ideas while also giving us the building blocks to do some never-before-seen investigations, like figuring out whether spouses work for companies or organizations that have gotten federal contracts or grants (something our friends at OMB Watch have made possible through FedSpending.org), or for firms that lobby or hire lobbyists to influence Congress.Continue reading
I was lucky enough to be invited to the bill signing ceremony for S. 2590, the Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act of 2006, at the Old Executive Office Building this morning. President Bush's remarks are here; Glenn Reynolds has a post here; and Mark Tapscott previewed the event this morning. It was nice to meet the two of them in the flesh, as well as a fair number of the folks who are part of the Exposing Earmarks coalition.Continue reading