RAT Board and NAPA Host Recovery.gov Dialogue

The Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board, the Office of Management and Budget and the National Academy of Public Administration are hosting a week-long, online dialogue around the question "What ideas, tools, and approaches can make Recovery.gov a place where all citizens can transparently monitor the expenditure and use of recovery funds?"

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NSA Leaks Info to Embarrass Elected Congresswoman

In a brazen and sophomoric act, the National Security Agency (NSA) spied and then released information on Rep. Jane Harman (D-CA), a member of the House Subcommittee on Intelligence, Information Sharing, and Terrorism Risk, in what can only be an effort to discredit her. 

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CAR Coalition Materials on Recovery Act Implementation

The Coalition for an Accountable Recovery (CAR), coordinated by OMB Watch, has been hard at work monitoring the implementation of the Recovery Act. Last Friday, April 17, the coalition submitted comments on the proposed implementation of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Recovery Act). OMB Watch also produced a summary of the guidance for the coalition and released it publicly on April 10.

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Mums the Word from the White House on State Secrets Act

To my dismay the White House has repeatedly stonewalled regarding its position on the State Secrets Privilege Protection Act targeted at limiting the executive branch’s use of privilege.  In the past two weeks the White House has refused comment to Marc Armbinder of The Atlantic and Greg Sargent of TPM. 

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CBPP Report on Proper Disclosure of State Tax Expenditures

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities published a fantastic, in-depth report this month examining the state of disclosure of state level tax expenditures. The report reviews the best (OR, MN, and CT) and worst (AR, MD, and RI) state reports and outlines the best practices for the ideal tax expenditure disclosure. CBPP makes a strong case that increased disclosure of tax expenditure data by states would improve policies and accountability:

If properly designed and implemented, a tax expenditure report makes tax expenditures more transparent by telling policymakers and the public how the state is spending its money and what it is accomplishing through those expenditures. A tax expenditure report also encourages accountability by enabling policymakers and voters to evaluate individual tax expenditures and decide whether to continue them. In addition, a tax expenditure report saves money by enabling policymakers to monitor the costs of tax expenditures and rein in their cost if necessary.

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SIGTARP Investigates Possible Book-Cooking!

book cookingThe Special Inspector General for TARP has begun investigations into whether some banks altered their accounting records and balance sheets in order to appear "fundamentally sound," the Financial Times is reporting this morning. Banks must demonstrate they are "fundamentally sound" before they can qualify for TARP funds from the government.

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Technological Ineptitude in Congress is Just Sad

Earmarks has become the new four letter word in Congress of late, with most members rhetorically castigating earmarks while quietly slipping in earmark requests for funding in their districts to committee staff, in conference reports of bills, and anyplace else they can stick them.

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Pass S. 482!

During the 110th Congress OMB Watch was a part of a campaign, pass S. 223. The Campaign Disclosure Parity Act would simply require senators to file their campaign finance reports electronically. And now ten groups have joined in the same effort which has become pass S. 482, where everyone can help us to get the bill passed. There is a list of all senators and information regarding whether they support the measure.

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Bulk Data Downloads Passed in Omnibus Spending Bill

By passing the Omnibus Spending Bill, Congress has made further inroads to reaching a 21st Century level of transparency.  Rep. Mike Honda (D-CA) inserted a measure directing Congress and its affiliated components to make raw data available to the public.  Raw data feeds are the building blocks that programmers use to create mashups that bring various information sources together.

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Recovery.gov

It's live.

The new stimulus spending website mandated by the recently-passed (and soon-to-be-signed) American Recovery and Reinvestment Act is now up and operational.

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