Legislation Would Set Up Searchable Database to Track Federal Dollars
Jul 28 2006
WASHINGTON (July 27, 2006) – The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee today unanimously passed legislation, sponsored by Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., that would create a Google-like search engine and database to track approximately $1 trillion in federal grants, contracts, earmarks and loans. The Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act (S. 2590), which Carper introduced with Sens. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., Barack Obama, D-Ill., and John McCain, R-Ariz., would require the White House Office of Management and Budget to create a free online, searchable system where the public can find information on most public expenditures, such as congressional earmarks, agency grants and federal contracts. The system would NOT include employee pay and benefits or any national-security-classified information. “If we’re going to hold the federal government accountable for its performance, then we need to empower the public with basic information about who’s receiving federal dollars and what’s being doing with them,” said Carper, senior Democrat on the Senate Subcommittee on Federal Financial Management. “This bill will shed some much-needed light on the activities of most federal agencies, allowing the public to decide for themselves whether their tax dollars are well spent." “Passing this bill will help end the culture of secrecy in Washington and restore some measure of the public’s confidence in government. Technology has made it possible, like never before, to fulfill our founders’ vision of enabling all citizens to understand our nation’s finances, investigate abuses and hold elected officials accountable,” said Coburn, chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Federal Financial Management. “All Americans deserve to know where their money is being spent. ‘Googling’ the government will not only help expose and eliminate waste, but dispel misconceptions about the scope of our commitments. Many Americans, for example, assume we are spending a large percentage of our budget on foreign assistance when we are not. Whether you’re on the left or right, there is no worthy argument against transparency,” Obama said. Eighteen Senators have co-sponsored S. 2590 including Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., Susan Collins, R-Maine, Joe Lieberman, D-Conn., and Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y. Dozens of editorials boards across the country including the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, Chicago Sun-Times and Daily Oklahoman have also endorsed the bill, which now heads to the full Senate for passage.