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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Q & A With Philip Mattera: Tens of Billions in State and Local Subsidies Annually Go to Big Business

States and local governments strike deals with corporations all the time – deals that normal people like you and I would have a hard time getting and deals that often deprive our governments of revenue even as promises of job creation often disappoint. These tax breaks, publicly funded cash incentives, free buildings, and worker training are done in the name of keeping or wooing businesses. Until relatively recently, the public mostly knew about these subsidies on an anecdotal basis.

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Now Available: Obama Foreign Aid Order Obtained in Groundbreaking Case

Today, the Center for Effective Government is releasing the Presidential Policy Directive on Global Development, which it obtained through a path-setting Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit. President Obama originally issued the order in September 2010. Our story exemplifies a situation where disclosure eventually prevailed but with more delay and hassle than should be the case under the law.

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RTK NET Publishes 2012 Toxics Release Inventory Data

Last week, the Right-to-Know Network (RTK NET) published the 2012 Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) data. This data provides public access to important U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) data on the release and transfer of toxic chemicals in the United States.

TRI was established as a part of the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) of 1986, requiring EPA to make publicly available the releases and transfers of toxic chemicals above a certain threshold.

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