Preventing Chemical Disasters and Protecting Your Right to Know

On March 31, the Center for Effective Government filed comments with the Interagency Working Group established under President Barack Obama's Executive Order 13650, Improving Chemical Facility Safety and Security. Our comments provide key recommendations to the Working Group that will help prevent chemical disasters and ensure that the public has information about the risks that chemical facilities pose to their communities.

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Medicare Releases Data on Payments to Physicians

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services today released a trove of data on the agency's payments to physicians. This information has long been sought for its value in detecting and deterring fraud and waste.

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CEG Joins Brief in Case Challenging Secret Presidential Orders

The Center for Effective Government joined Public Citizen and other open government groups on April 7 in filing an amicus brief in a key lawsuit under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). The case, Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) v. National Security Agency (NSA), could limit the public's ability to access documents that set policy for executive branch agencies. 

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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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