New Posts

Feb 8, 2016

Top 400 Taxpayers See Tax Rates Rise, But There’s More to the Story

As Americans were gathering party supplies to greet the New Year, the Internal Revenue Service released their annual report of cumulative tax data reported on the 400 tax r...

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Feb 4, 2016

Chlorine Bleach Plants Needlessly Endanger 63 Million Americans

Chlorine bleach plants across the U.S. put millions of Americans in danger of a chlorine gas release, a substance so toxic it has been used as a chemical weapon. Greenpeace’s new repo...

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Jan 25, 2016

U.S. Industrial Facilities Reported Fewer Toxic Releases in 2014

The Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) data for 2014 is now available. The good news: total toxic releases by reporting facilities decreased by nearly six percent from 2013 levels. Howe...

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Jan 22, 2016

Methane Causes Climate Change. Here's How the President Plans to Cut Emissions by 40-45 Percent.

  UPDATE (Jan. 22, 2016): Today, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) released its proposed rule to reduce methane emissions...

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Why “The Sky Hasn’t Fallen Yet” is a Bad Standard for Judging Policy Choices

There are many who are downplaying concerns about the October 17 deadline for approving a routine measure that allows the U.S. to manage its finances and pay the bills it already owes. Without approving an increase in the debt ceiling, it will be difficult for the U.S. federal government to pay its bills on time – likely leading to default. Because of the central role these regular payments play in the U.S. and global financial system, many experts say a default on U.S.

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Leading Senator Calls for End of Fiscal Brinksmanship

On Sept. 17, Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), chair of the Senate Budget Committee, spoke on the floor of the Senate and said congressional Republicans need to come to the negotiating table and end the looming fiscal standoffs that are less than two weeks away.

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Open Government Advocates Disappointed by Rollback of STOCK Act Requirements for Online Access

Just a year after enacting it, Congress and the president rolled back a key transparency provision of the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge Act of 2012 (STOCK Act) instead of amending it to address concerns.

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Shortcomings in Transparency Performance Point to the Need for Reforms of Freedom of Information Act

The Center for Effective Government's recent analysis, Freedom of Information Act Performance, 2012: Agencies Are Processing More Requests but Redacting More Often, highlighted some troubling trends in agencies' performance in providing information to the public under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and found wide disparities among agencies. These shortcomings show that legislation will be needed to repair the current weaknesses in the FOIA system.

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Bill Would Open Access to Agency Reports to Congress

The Center for Effective Government joined more than 20 allies in endorsing the Access to Congressionally Mandated Reports Act (H.R. 1380). The legislation would require the U.S. Government Printing Office (GPO) to post any report issued to Congress or its committees on a public website. Introduced by Rep. Mike Quigley (D-IL) and a group of 10 bipartisan co-sponsors, the bill would improve public access to the thousands of reports that federal agencies are required to submit to Congress each year by allowing people to search, sort, and download the documents.

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Ruling in Major Freedom of Information Act Case Requires Meaningful Responses to Requests

On Tuesday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit issued an important ruling in a lawsuit that Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) filed against the Federal Election Commission (FEC). The court agreed with CREW’s position that in order to meet the Freedom of Information Act's (FOIA) deadline to reply to a request, an agency's response must be meaningful. The Center for Effective Government supported CREW’s position by joining an amicus brief in June 2012.

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One Step Forward, One Step Missed: House Committee Approves Limited FOIA Improvements

On March 20, the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform approved the FOIA Oversight and Implementation Act (H.R. 1211), sponsored by the committee's chair and ranking member, Reps. Darrell Issa (R-CA) and Elijah Cummings (D-MD). The bill would take steps to improve agency compliance with the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and require agencies to post more public information online. However, more reforms will be needed to address fundamental flaws in the current FOIA system.

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Freedom of Information Act Performance, 2012: Agencies Are Processing More Requests but Redacting More Often

A building block of American democracy is the idea that citizens have a right to information about how their government works and what it does in their name. However, citizen access to public information was only established by law in 1966 with the passage of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). The law has since been strengthened and improved over the years, and FOIA currently requires federal agencies to formally respond to requests for information within 20 working days or potentially face a lawsuit. While there are exemptions that agencies can use to avoid the disclosure of sensitive information or information that violates privacy rights, agencies processed over half a million FOIA requests in 2012. In about 41 percent of these cases, the information requested was released “in full” with no parts “redacted” – i.e., clean, complete documents with no blacked-out parts were provided to the person who requested the information.

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After Four Years, Obama Delivers Policy Leadership on Transparency, but Agency Implementation Is Inconsistent

Four years ago, President Obama entered office offering an inspiring vision for a more open and participatory government. A new report by Center for Effective Government staff credits the Obama administration for using its first term to construct a policy foundation that could make that vision a reality. However, the actual implementation of open government policies within federal agencies has been inconsistent and sometimes weak.

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Delivering on Open Government: The Obama Administration's Unfinished Legacy

This report examines progress made during President Obama’s first term toward open government goals outlined in a comprehensive set of recommendations that the open government community issued in November 2008, titled Moving Toward a 21st Century Right-to-Know Agenda. We examine activity in the three main areas of the 2008 report: creating an environment within government that is supportive of transparency, improving public use of government information, and reducing the secrecy related to national security issues.

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Resources & Research

Living in the Shadow of Danger: Poverty, Race, and Unequal Chemical Facility Hazards

People of color and people living in poverty, especially poor children of color, are significantly more likely...

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A Tale of Two Retirements: One for CEOs and One for the Rest of Us

The 100 largest CEO retirement funds are worth a combined $4.9 billion, equal to the entire retirement account savings of 41 percent of American fam...

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