Our Six-Point Plan for Spending Transparency

by Sam Rosen-Amy, 3/18/2011

As I wrote about yesterday in this post, last Friday the House Oversight Committee held a great hearing focusing on spending transparency. We submitted written testimony for the hearing, which you can read here. In it, we talk about the six changes Congress and the Obama administration should make to USAspending.gov, the government's spending website which is based off of one of our websites, FedSpending.org.

Making USAspending.gov better isn’t just about improving the quality of the current data, which Friday's hearing focused on a great deal, it’s also about broadening the site’s scope. We need to bring in other data sources to improve, and help give context to, the spending data already on USAspending.gov. To that end, the testimony outlines a six-point plan for advancing federal spending transparency:

  • Treasury data: Use spending information directly from the nation’s checkbook, which would improve data quality
  • Tax expenditure data: Shed light on the more than $1 trillion in tax expenditures
  • Multi-tier sub-recipient reporting: Everyone who gets federal funds must report in, as opposed to the current two-tier system
  • Unique entity identification: Create a new system to link recipients to lobbying data, contractor performance information, etc.
  • Full text of contracts: Show detailed information on government projects, not just short summaries
  • Performance information: Provide meaningful data on which programs are effective

A full explanation of each of these steps is included in our testimony, so it’s worth a read. By making these changes to USAspending.gov, already the government’s premiere spending transparency portal, the public will get a full picture of how the government spends its money.

Image by Flickr user TalkMediaNews used under a Creative Commons license.

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