In September, Sunlight tools and data were able to power stories around campaign finance, the pope and super PACs.Continue reading
Sunlight went state by state analyzing how well each one discloses the influence of lobbyists. How did your state do?Continue reading
In the midst of scandal and U.S. trade negotiations, the European Commission announces new lobbying disclosure rules that will require top-level officials to disclose information on lobbyist contacts.Continue reading
The Obama Administration is expected to release the second version of its Open Government Partnership National Action Plan this fall. The Open Government Partnership (OGP) is the primary multi-national initiative for open government, founded in 2011. The original US plan, released on September 20, 2011, covered a lot of ground, but also suffered a lack of detail and ignored several of the most pressing transparency issues. (Both money in politics and national security went uncovered.)
Given the US’s leadership role in the world (and in OGP), and the variety of issues the country faces, we hope the US National Action Plan will demonstrate how an administration can use transparency reform to help address some of the most fundamental challenges it faces.
The following are four Sunlight priorities for the upcoming US National Action Plan, and are priorities that we’ve often repeated to White House officials in our work.Continue reading
The Sunlight Foundation’s sister organization, the Sunlight Network, is organizing Citizen Advocacy Day, an exciting opportunity for citizens to let... View ArticleContinue reading
Just like the debt limit negotiations and Supercommittee process that helped cause it, the so-called "fiscal cliff" of expiring laws is creating another round of secretive negotiations among our political leaders. The heads of both parties now thrive on stories of impending fiscal consequences, even when they're of their own making.To cope with a polarized electorate, our leaders have figured out a way to create an apparent impending disaster that is unpalatable regardless of one's ideology. Whatever the outcome of their fight with each other, they've created a dystopian future against which they can be made to look like heroes warding off impending doom with their brave bipartisanship.
It doesn't really matter which party started it (both of them) or whether this was avoidable (it was), because divided government has again led us to a place where the most important policy decisions are probably going to be made in secret, and then passed down to the rest of us.
While online disclosure and dialog don't threaten to take away politicians' power anytime soon, they do represent our best chance at elevating substance, rewarding merit, and reducing undue influence, whether in crafting legislation or in dealing with the struggles of divided government. Sunlight's approach to government transparency has made us skeptical observers of these political negotiations, and as we find ourselves entering yet another cycle, we decided to ask:
What can we expect of the next month, and what should we do about it?Continue reading
The idea that Washington, DC's lobbying disclosure schedule is inadequate is not new, but it might be easy to improve thanks to new legislation targeting campaign finance reform. Lobbying and campaign finance are inherently linked. Companies that lobby the city government invariably give to political campaigns. Currently, those who lobby the DC government and Council only have to report their activities and expenditures twice a year. As a result, journalists, watchdogs and interested citizens often have to wait until far after important debates for crucial information about the special interests that were working to influence policy decisions. Moreover, the bi-yearly requirements make it difficult to paint a complete picture of influence spending, especially in an election year.Continue reading
Regardless of who wins the presidential election, the next administration will have enormous power to say how open our government will be. We have organized our priorities for the next administration below, to share where we think our work on executive branch issues will be focused, in advance of the election results. From money in politics to open data, spending, and freedom of information, we'll be working to open up the Executive Branch. We'd love to hear any suggestions you might have for Sunlight's Executive Branch work, please leave additional ideas in the comments below. (We'll also be sharing other recommendations soon, including a legislative agenda for the 113th Congress, and a suite of reform proposals for the House and Senate rules packages.) Sunlight Reform Agenda for the Next Administration:Continue reading