More Transparency Could Help Fight Fraud and Strengthen Medicare

On Sept. 5, the Center for Effective Government, along with 13 other organizations, filed comments calling for the disclosure of Medicare payments to medical providers. Releasing the amounts of Medicare funds paid to providers could help fight fraud and strengthen Medicare.

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Informing All Financial Customers: Consumer Protection Agency Expands Complaint Database

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) announced today that it will expand its online public database of customer complaints to include additional financial services that the bureau regulates. Previously, the database had included only complaints about credit cards. Under the new policy, the CFPB will disclose complaints it has received from consumers about mortgages, bank accounts and services, private student loans, and other consumer loans.

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Celebrating Sunshine Week 2013

Sunshine Week, a nationwide initiative highlighting the importance of open government and accountability, will be held this year from March 10-16. Created by journalists in 2002, Sunshine Week is designed to educate people on their right to access public information in understandable, user-friendly formats to participate more effectively in democracy and to use such information to protect and improve their communities.

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Celebrate Public Participation on Human Rights Day

Today is Human Rights Day. This year's theme, "inclusion and the right to participate in public life," is close to our hearts here at OMB Watch.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights affirms that "all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights," and goes on to define a life of dignity as one in which freedom of opinion and expression, the right to health, and the right to participate in government are guaranteed. All governments are obliged to respect and promote these rights, and national and international mechanisms exist to enforce them.

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Whistleblowers Saved the Government $3.3 Billion Last Year

Whistleblowers helped the federal government recover at least $3.3 billion in fiscal year 2012, a record high, according to a Dec. 4 announcement by the Justice Department.

The funds were recovered by whistleblower lawsuits under the False Claims Act. That law allows individuals to report fraud against the federal government – and, if their claims are proven, to receive a share of the money that is recovered.

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Senate Passes Amendments to Shed Light on Contractor Misbehavior

The Senate has approved several amendments to the National Defense Authorization Act (S. 3254), which will bring greater transparency and accountability to federal contracting. The amendments, which OMB Watch endorsed, would strengthen whistleblower protections for federal contractors and grantees, modeled after the protections pioneered in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. 

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Medical Mistake Reporting System Could Make Health Care Safer

Victims of mistakes at hospitals, clinics, and pharmacies could soon have a way to report their experiences to the federal government. This new effort could make health care safer for everyone. The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), a division of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), is proposing to create a consumer reporting system for patient safety events

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State and Local Governments Can Enhance Campaign Finance Transparency

I testified last week at a hearing of the District of Columbia Council about ways to strengthen campaign finance transparency. My message was that transparency should be part of any reform approach that the District pursues. My message to the D.C. Council was that transparency should be part of any reform approach that the District pursues. As I pointed out, "Transparency deters corruption, exposes abuse if it does occur, and empowers voters to hold public officials accountable."

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Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board Begins Work

This morning, the long-awaited Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board is holding its first public meeting. Congress created the board in 2007 to ensure privacy and civil liberties are protected from overzealous domestic counterterrorism activities.  However, the board has laid dormant since its creation. The Senate failed to confirm President Bush's nominees in 2008.

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Protecting Safe Drinking Water and Your Right to Know

On Oct. 11, OMB Watch and 14 other organizations filed comments with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), highlighting ways to strengthen the drinking water quality reports that consumers receive from water utilities. EPA recently proposed changes in how the reports are delivered to consumers, which could actually reduce public access to the information.

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