House Hearings Highlight Criticisms of DISCLOSE Act

During the first House hearings on the DISCLOSE Act, disagreements and debate arose over the scope and potential impacts of a bill that sponsors say is designed to create new disclosure requirements for various corporate entities that are promoting or opposing candidates for federal office. As Congress continues to move forward with the bill, controversy will likely follow.

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Senate Passes Limited "Audit the Fed" Amendment

During the ongoing Senate debate on the financial reform bill, Federal Reserve transparency briefly took center stage. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) introduced an "Audit the Fed" amendment to the bill during the week of May 16, which the Senate approved in a 96-0 vote after the amendment was greatly scaled back. The amendment would instruct the Government Accountability Office to "conduct a one-time audit of all loans and other financial assistance provided during the period beginning on December 1, 2007 and ending on the date of enactment of this Act."

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DISCLOSE Act Seeks to Blunt Impacts of Citizens United

To blunt the impacts of the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) and Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) recently introduced companion bills, both called the DISCLOSE Act (the Democracy Is Strengthened by Casting Light On Spending in Elections Act). The legislative response would create new, rigorous campaign finance disclosure requirements meant to prevent moneyed interests from drowning out the voices of citizens and smaller advocacy organizations.

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Open Government Advocates Grade Federal Agency Openness Plans

On May 3, a group of open government experts, including OMB Watch, released a review of federal agencies’ initial Open Government Plans that were published on April 7. Overall, the independent audit organized by OpenTheGovernment.org found that agencies did good work, but much remains to be done.

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A Conference to Develop a Long Range Vision for Federal Spending Transparency

Strengthening Federal Spending Transparency: A Working Conference to Develop a Plan of Action

May 20, 2010
9:00 am - 5:30 pm
Washington, D.C.

Hosted by Center for American Progress, Economic Policy Institute, Good Jobs First, OMB Watch, OpenTheGovernment.org, Progressive States Network, Project on Government Oversight, Sunlight Foundation, and Taxpayers for Common Sense

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Open Government Plans Seek Revamp of Culture and Structure

On April 7, federal agencies released their individual plans to be more transparent, participatory, and collaborative, pursuant to the Obama administration’s Open Government Directive (OGD). The plans varied in scope and quality, but several interesting trends were noticeable. As agencies update their plans, these trends may become baselines for open government or may be abandoned, depending on how successful key agencies' plans prove to be.

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EPA Plan Seeks to Instill Transparency into Agency DNA

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has released its plan for improving the agency's transparency as part of the Obama administration's Open Government Directive (OGD). The EPA was an early proponent of the new openness agenda, with EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson calling for the agency to operate "as if it were in a fishbowl." The agency's new Open Government Plan documents numerous ongoing and future actions that should continue the agency's advance toward transparency and accountability.

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One Small Policy Step, but One Huge Leap for Government Openness: Statement of Gary D. Bass

WASHINGTON, April 7, 2010—The Obama administration took several actions today that will likely have a lasting and positive impact on government transparency. Each federal agency announced its Open Government Plan, complemented by Office of Management and Budget (OMB) policy changes to reduce certain impediments to transparency and to improve both regulatory and federal spending transparency.

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Leaders and Laggards in Agency Open Government Webpages

Complying with requirements of the Open Government Directive (OGD), federal agencies launched transparency pages on their websites Feb. 6. The content and functionality of the pages varied from non-compliant to barely compliant to above and beyond expectations. OMB Watch conducted an assessment of the webpages between Feb. 15 and 22, based on factors that make for sound accountability and transparency.

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Commentary: Celebrating One of the Recovery Act's Legacies: Transparency

Feb. 17 marked the one-year anniversary of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, commonly called the Recovery Act. Both political parties celebrated the occasion with partisan attacks. Democrats heralded the act as having saved the nation's economy, while Republicans savaged it for being an expensive government program with little to show by way of jobs. While the two parties can argue over how effective the act actually has been, both can agree on one thing: the lasting legacy of the Recovery Act’s transparency provisions.

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