Information for Economic Opportunity: Ensuring Equal Pay through Transparency

Today is Equal Pay Day, the date representing how far into the new year the average woman would have to work in order to earn the same as the average man did in the previous year. In recognition, President Obama took executive actions and the Senate began work on a bill, all aimed at closing the pay gap and ensuring women earn equal pay for equal work. Each of these efforts is based on the same premise: that better access to information can expand economic opportunity.

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Medicare Announces It Will Publish Payment Data

In a major win for transparency, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced on April 2 that it will release physician reimbursement data. This data, previously kept confidential, contains information about how much the federal government pays to most Medicare providers. The data will not compromise or disclose any patient privacy information.

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Congress Puts Medicare Transparency on Back Burner

On March 31, Congress once again kicked the can down the road by passing its 17th temporary patch to Medicare's reimbursement rate. This one-year extension does not include a crucial transparency reform, proposed in previous Medicare bills this session, which would have required the release of Medicare's physician payment data. This missed opportunity means Medicare, one of the largest government programs, will continue to receive less oversight and accountability than other areas of federal spending.

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GM Recall Prompts Investigations and Legislation, but More Is Needed to Prevent Future Incidents

At least 31 vehicle crashes involving 13 fatalities have been linked to faulty ignition switches in multiple models of General Motors (GM) vehicles, according to the company's website

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National Response Center’s Database of Spills and Accidents “Down for Maintenance”

For almost a month, the National Response Center’s national database of spills and accidents of oil and hazardous substances has been offline “for maintenance,” but the public and companies can still submit reports of any spills and accidents by phone at 1-800-424-8802. The public can also receive the data via a Freedom of Information Act request.

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House Bill on Medicare Payment Transparency Undermined by Poison Pill Provision

On March 14, the House passed the SGR Repeal and Medicare Provider Payment Modernization Act (H.R. 4015), which includes provisions on Medicare data transparency. Among other things, the bill would require Medicare to publicly disclose data on reimbursements made to physicians while protecting patients' privacy. The legislation would direct the Secretary of Health and Human Services to release payment data on Physician Compare, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services' online physician database. Unfortunately, the bill also contains a "poison pill" – the repeal of the Affordable Care Act's individual mandate – rendering it unworkable in its current form.

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Celebrating Sunshine Week 2014

Sunshine Week, the annual celebration of government openness and transparency, will be held next week, from March 16-22. Leading up to and during the week, events are held nationwide to highlight transparency in government. There are legislative hearings, film screenings, public discussions, editorials, reports published, and awards recognizing those who have advanced government openness and transparency.

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Q & A With Daphne Greenwood: How Outsourcing Can Harm Communities

Egregious examples of government contractors fleecing the public abound. But how does the outsourcing of government functions to contractors and the erosion of the public sector affect society?

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Transparency in Government Act Looks to Change Status Quo

Rep. Mike Quigley (D-IL) introduced a bill today that would take a number of innovative steps toward greater government transparency. The Transparency in Government Act would bring greater openness to the federal government through a number of pioneering proposals that harness 21st century technology and address critical gaps in each of the three branches.

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Sunshine Week: Secrecy Shrouds Justice Dept. Professional Misconduct

Earlier today, the Project On Government Oversight (POGO) published a freelance report I wrote on how secrecy surrounding the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) internal investigations of alleged professional misconduct has fueled concerns in some parts of the legal community that the Justice Department isn’t aggressively holding its attorneys accountable.

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