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Tag Archive: OpenCRS

Continued cuts to legislative branch budget hurt transparency, accountability, and capacity.

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photo by Flickr user Tax CreditsThis morning, the House Appropriations Committee's Legislative Branch Subcommittee marked up its FY 2014 funding bill, agreeing to a plan that would cut funding for Congress and legislative support agencies well below FY 2013 levels, and even beneath sequestration levels for most offices. Committee leadership claimed that cuts were necessary to "lead by example" and help get the government's "fiscal house in order," but, in reality, the cuts will likely limit accountability, access to information, and the ability of Congress and the legislative support agencies to do their jobs efficiently and effectively. The shrinking budgets could also make it more difficult for Congress to implement a number of important transparency initiatives. Specifically, the plan would continue several years of cuts to House operations and the Government Accountability Office that have diminished the capacity of both bodies.

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Sharing Some Ideas to Improve Congressional Operations

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On January 30th the House of Representatives' Bulk Data Task Force held its second public meeting to outline its efforts and hear from interested members of the public. Yesterday, Daniel Schuman recapped the meeting and discussed some of the many excellent steps the task force has taken, and is planning to take, to make House operations more open. Recently, the House has shown a deep commitment to making its operations open and accessible to the citizens that it serves. But, there can always be room for improvement. At the recent Advisory Committee on Transparency event three speakers presented ideas that, they argued, would improve congressional operations and make the Legislative branch more effective and transparent.

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Your Late Night Reading: CRS reports Courtesy of OpenCRS.com

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Poor John. He can't quite get over his late night work habits. (Before he came to Sunlight to direct our Open House Project he worked a day job and indulged his fascination with politics between the hours of 10 PM and 4 AM).

Last night at 2 AM he sent this email:

I just finished reading the latest CRS report from August 26th on Congress and the Internet, linked in the latest Open House Project report, and was delighted to find that Sunlight and the Open House Project are specifically cited by Walter Oleszek (senior government analyst for CRS) for our work in promoting citizen access.

That it was Oleszek's report was particularly satisfying for me, since reading several of his introductory books on Congress (Congressional Procedures and the Policy Process, and Congress and Its Members) is what got me quasi proficient enough to get started.

John has some more extensive thoughts this morning.

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Three New Grants

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Just before I left town for a two-week break, Sunlight announced its first round of grants for 2007, totaling just over $200,000. On my return, I realized that we hadn't posted anything about them -- other than a press release -- and so our readers might have missed the news. We are staying the course in terms of the kind of investments were are making with the money going to organizations that are using new "Web 2.0" technology to further the organization's mission of putting information into citizens' hands to increase transparency in Congress. We believe that our grantees are on the cutting edge of work that will open up our legislative branch.

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