On June 19, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) issued a policy that establishes a public online database of credit card complaints from customers. The database allows consumers shopping for a credit card to view data about other customers' experiences in order to avoid abusive practices and poor customer service.
In April, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) approved reforms to modernize the disclosure requirements for broadcasters operating on the public airwaves. The rule will expose the influence of money in politics by making information about who is financing political advertising available online. However, the transparency rule is under attack: broadcasters quickly filed suit against the FCC, while House Republicans attached a policy provision to a spending bill that would block the rule from taking effect.
Lawmakers are calling for legislation to protect children from toxic flame retardant chemicals embedded in a host of everyday consumer products. The substances have been linked to cancer, endocrine disruption, and other serious illnesses. Since these chemicals are widely used in furniture, clothes, and carpets, practically every home in the country could be affected.
A new White House strategy could revolutionize transparency by reforming the fundamentals of how government uses technology. The plan lays out procedures for establishing openness as the default for public information and raises the bar for usability, efficiency, and innovation. The reforms promise to make government information easier to find and use through a series of concrete actions to be taken over the next year and would help Americans engage with their government.
On May 3, the Associated Press reported that the governor of Wyoming pressured the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to delay the release of a draft study linking a controversial natural gas extraction process, commonly referred to as fracking, to the contamination of drinking water. Wyoming officials apparently used the delay to coordinate efforts with the oil and gas industries to attack the report’s findings.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other industry representatives are blocking a new rule that would better inform workers of their legal rights. The rule, issued by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) in August 2011, would inform employees of their right to organize and bargain collectively. The rule would add to the existing framework of policies to protect workers' right to know, but business lawsuits are preventing it from taking effect.
As leaders of both parties in Congress obsess over cutting spending, it's no surprise that spending transparency has become an issue. Most recently, the House passed the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act (DATA Act), a bill designed to increase the quantity, quality, and accessibility of federal spending information. The bill would be a leap forward in government openness, but it is only a beginning. A comprehensive system of federal spending transparency that enables citizens to hold government accountable must include a set of key elements, which we explore in this article.