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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Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board Begins Work

This morning, the long-awaited Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board is holding its first public meeting. Congress created the board in 2007 to ensure privacy and civil liberties are protected from overzealous domestic counterterrorism activities.  However, the board has laid dormant since its creation. The Senate failed to confirm President Bush's nominees in 2008.

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Scaling Up Transparency: New Approaches Could Yield Greater Openness

Two reforms launched by federal agencies this month represent new approaches to more efficiently releasing government information. New websites to publish declassified documents and records released under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) could set new precedents and improve on older practices by making the information available to everyone online.

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Agency Proposal Would Reduce the Public's Right to Know about the Fish Population

Our nation's ocean wildlife and fish are a public resource, and citizens should be able to track the impact of fishing on fish populations. But a new proposal from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) will greatly reduce the public's access to essential fisheries data, including taxpayer-funded programs. Restricting public access to fisheries data could erode scientific integrity, transparency, and public participation in government decisions and eventually lead to poorer management of fisheries.

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Progress: U.S. Aid Agencies Increase Transparency

 An annual index that grades international aid organizations and agencies based on transparency was published Oct. 1. Publish What You Fund’s 2012 Aid Transparency Index and U.S. Report Card compares several U.S. agencies that provide foreign aid. All of the U.S. agencies improved their scores, many considerably from last year. However, the agencies vary widely in their performance, and overall, the U.S. lags other major foreign aid donors.

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New Website Will Make Government Information Easier to Obtain

A new federal website launched Oct. 1 could speed processing of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests and release more information to the public. FOIAonline is a multi-agency portal that allows the public to submit and track requests, receive responses, and search others' requests through a single website. The system also provides agencies new features to assist with processing requests, which could improve timeliness and reduce backlogs. Agencies can also use the system to publish their responses to FOIA requests, which would make this information more widely accessible.

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New Court Decision Is a Blow to Political Spending Transparency Requirements that Were Already Being Evaded

On Sept. 18, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned Van Hollen v. Federal Election Commission (Van Hollen), a lower court ruling that effectively required more disclosure of political spending. But the Court of Appeals' blow to political spending transparency is mostly a symbolic one: over the last six months, most nonprofit political advocates have found ways to skirt the disclosure requirements and keep their donors anonymous.

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New Senate Bill Would Advance Spending Transparency

The latest offering from the Senate on federal spending transparency is far less ambitious that its House counterpart, but if enacted, it would be a big win for transparency and accountability. There would still be some areas of spending transparency to be addressed in future legislation, but if the Senate's version of the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act (DATA Act) becomes law, the public will have a clearer picture of federal spending and new tools for accountability.

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OMB Watch Lauds the Introduction of DATA Act in the Senate

WASHINGTON, Sept. 21, 2012—OMB Watch welcomed the introduction of a revised version of the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act, or DATA Act, in the Senate and commended Sens. Mark Warner (D-VA) and Rob Portman (R-OH) for working together on this important legislation. The DATA Act will provide an unprecedented level of transparency and create critical new tools to track and analyze federal spending and hold officials accountable for their decisions.

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One Year Later, Delivering on the Commitments of the Open Government Partnership

Sept. 20 marked the one-year anniversary of the launch of the global Open Government Partnership (OGP) and the release of the U.S. National Action Plan detailing the Obama administration's commitments to strengthen transparency in the federal government. The partnership and the administration's implementation efforts have both made significant progress toward their goal of more open and responsive governments in the U.S. and worldwide.

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New Freedom of Information Guidance Advances Openness

 New guidance issued Friday by the Department of Justice (DOJ) will help to ensure that a little-known part of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) will not be inappropriately used to shield agency activities from public scrutiny.

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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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