Raising the Bar for Transparency and Customer Service

Yesterday, the House passed the Government Customer Service Improvement Act, H.R. 538, by Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-TX). The bill would require the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to establish standards and performance measures for the customer service that federal agencies provide to the public. Federal agencies' customer service performance ratings would be reported publicly, and each agency would be required to collect and publish feedback from citizen customers. This would advance government openness and could improve government performance.

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Law that Legalized Warrantless Wiretapping Up for Reauthorization Today

The FISA Amendments Act, the 2008 law that legalized the Bush administration’s warrantless wiretapping program, is up for reauthorization on the House floor, with a vote scheduled for later today. The law authorizes the government to get permission from a special, secret court to investigate international communications of American citizens, without specifying suspicion of wrongdoing. 

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Pulling Shell Corporations Out of the Shadows

A letter to the editor of The New York Times earlier this week aptly alerted the country to the dangers of anonymous shell corporations, which serve as shadowy pathways for moving money around the globe. Heather Lowe of Global Financial Integrity explained that the secrecy surrounding such corporations enables and encourages a host of illegal behavior.

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New Federal Agency Hits the Ground Running with Proactive Standards for the Release of Information

A new federal agency is making a strong start out of the box by establishing a proactive policy of releasing information under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). FOIA regulations published today by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) include an important clause committing the agency to proactively disclose the information it collects. The agency adopted the policy in response to a recommendation by OMB Watch.

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Political Ad Transparency Will Advance After House GOP Drops Effort to Block FCC Rule

This morning, Republican members of the House Appropriations Committee reversed their position and allowed a crucial new Federal Communications Commission (FCC) transparency rule to stand. The FCC rule, adopted in April, requires television broadcasters to disclose who is buying political advertisements. These disclosures will be posted in a public online database.

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CFPB Issues Credit Card Transparency Policy

Today, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) released the final version of a policy that will disclose consumer complaints about credit card companies in an online, searchable database.

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America Would Know Less Under House Census Policy

Since 1790, Americans have used the Census as a tool to understand who we are and where we stand as a nation. However, our ability to gather this crucial data would be crippled under a bill recently passed by the House.

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DATA Act Passes House, Moves on to Senate

Today, the House passed the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act, or DATA Act (H.R. 2146), by a voice vote with strong bipartisan support. The bill to strengthen the transparency of federal government spending was sponsored by Oversight and Government Reform committee chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) and ranking member Elijah Cummings (D-MD) and 13 other representatives.

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Take Action to Shine a Light on Public Officials' Financial Dealings

Last week, President Obama signed the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge Act, or STOCK Act — a historic piece of open government legislation. OMB Watch staff were there to see it happen and were pleased to witness an important transparency policy becoming law. In moments like this, we realize that our hard work and dedication are paying off!

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A Look at Transparency in the 21st Century

This afternoon, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee's technology subcommittee will host a hearing on using technology to improve transparency under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). The hearing will also be an opportunity to examine the Obama administration's performance on implementing FOIA.

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