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Tag Archive: GAO

Lobbyist Disclosure Gets Oversight

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Lobbying disclosure reports will finally get reviewed by an oversight body as a result of the Honest Leadership and Open Government Act (HLOGA). The Government Accountability Office (GAO) began auditing the first quarter lobbying reports to determine compliance and noncompliance to the Lobbying Disclosure Act of 1995 and subsequent amendments included in HLOGA. The GAO may ask for time sheets and restaurant and travel records to check to see if employees are meeting the lobbyist threshold. The audit results should be released around Sept. 30, 2008, six months after the initial quarterly report filing date. Michael Stern at Point of Order points out some issues that may prevent the GAO from requiring audited firms to turn over documents:

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GAO on DOD

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Last week, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report that details the extensive revolving door where former Department of Defense officials are now working for defense contractors, creating glaring conflicts of interest.

GAO's report found that in 2006, defense contractors employed over 86,000 former DOD employees who had left the agency since 2001. The report found instances where former DOD officials were working on contracts under the responsibility of their form agency, office or command. And they found nine instances where former officials are working on a contract "for which they had program oversight responsibilities or decision-making authorities while at DOD."

This isn't a newly recognized problem. A 2004 report by the Project on Government Oversight (POGO) on the revolving doors between the government and large private contractors found "conflict of interest is the rule, not the exception."

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Revolving Door Study Finds Pentagon Contractors at the Turnstiles

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Via IEC Journal comes word of this Government Accountability Office report written up in this Government Executive article by Elizabeth Newell on the post-employment trends of 400 top former Defense Department officials -- all of whom were subject to a one-year ban on lobbying their old colleagues. Newell offers this staggering finding:

Approximately 65 percent of those former officials were employed by one of seven contractors: Science Applications International Corp. (SAIC); Northrop Grumman Corp.; Lockheed Martin Corp.; Booz Allen Hamilton Inc.; L3 Communications Holding Inc.; General Dynamics and Raytheon Co. All but one of those companies, Booz Allen Hamilton, ranked in the top 10 of Government Executive's Top 200 Contractors list in 2007. Booz Allen Hamilton was 24th on that list.
USASpending.gov, maintained by Office of Management and Budget, ranks all of those seven contractors in their top 20 for 2007. Newell quotes Cristina Chaplain, the report's author, as saying, "Our results indicate that defense contractors may employ a substantial number of former DOD officials on assignments related to their former DOD agencies or their direct responsibilities."

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Oregon Copyrights Laws Tells Public You Can’t Have Them!

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Last week John Wonderlich posted about the ongoing story of the GAO giving exclusive rights to digitalize legislative histories to Thomson West on the Open House Project blog. The government entering a deal with a private company and giving them exclusive rights to public documents creates a situation where the whole point of digitalization is lost. When large amounts of documents are available on the internet in easy to download formats it’s supposed to increase public access but this situation has the opposite effect. Unfortunately this problem isn’t exclusive to the federal government.

Via Boing Boing and Carl Malamud,

“The State of Oregon is sending out cease and desist letters to sites like Justia and Public.Resource.Org that have been posting copies of Oregon laws, known as the Oregon Revised Statutes.

We've sent Oregon back two letters. The first reviews the law and explains to the Legislative Counsel why their assertion of copyright over the state statutes is particularly weak, from both a common law perspective and from their own enabling legislation.”

Malamud goes on to state that Thomson West has also made copies of these statutes but haven’t received cease and desist letters from Oregon yet (it was stated that West will be receiving letters). Apparently many states have laws that are copyrighted and this begs the question of how appropriate this kind of copyrighting in an internet age is. How can a law that was written for the purpose of serving the general public not be available to them to reproduce?

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