OMB Watch was formed in 1983 to lift the veil of secrecy shrouding the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB). OMB oversees federal regulation, the budget, information collection and dissemination, proposed legislation, testimony by agencies, and much more. While OMB's actions were having an enormous impact on agency operations and the pursuit of social justice, it remained largely behind the scenes — unaccountable and little understood by the public and public interest groups. By explaining governmental processes and monitoring OMB, OMB Watch helped bring sunshine to this powerful and secretive agency.
Since its founding, OMB Watch has expanded its focus to address the substantive issues the organization originally began tracking in the course of monitoring OMB:
At the national level, OMB Watch is deeply engaged in policy debate and formulation and is well-known for convening diverse coalitions comprising nonprofits that deal with environmental, low-income, health, education, consumer, labor, religious, and other public interest issues. In 2006, working with the support of groups and individuals from across the political spectrum, OMB Watch launched FedSpending.org, a free website that allows users to search through several years of information on government spending. FedSpending.org has been so successful that it has already seen millions of visitors and searches and served as the model for the federal government website USAspending.gov.
In 2008, we worked collaboratively to develop detailed recommendations for improving government transparency and the regulatory process, and we presented those recommendations to the Obama transition team and the leadership of the 111th Congress.
In 2009, OMB Watch and Good Jobs First spearheaded a new coalition of more than 30 diverse groups, called the Coalition for an Accountable Recovery, dedicated to ensuring that the implementation of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (Recovery Act) is open and accountable to the public.
OMB Watch also works closely with state and community groups across the country. Since our first days, we have conducted workshops and briefings on a range of federal issues in collaboration with hundreds of grassroots organizations that today regularly help us with our work. One good example of this work is RTK NET, which OMB Watch launched in 1989 as an online service providing environmental data. We have since taught thousands of small groups how to use RTK NET and other online and Internet technologies effectively to address problems in their communities.
OMB Watch recognizes that the policy work on fair taxes and spending, government secrecy, and regulatory responsiveness depends on an engaged citizenry. That is why we have a 29-year track record of actively protecting the advocacy and speech rights of the nonprofit sector. All of OMB Watch's strategies come into use when protecting speech rights: we monitor and analyze government actions; we take policy positions when needed; and we build strong local, state, and national coalitions to respond to both threats and opportunities.
In all our work, OMB Watch is committed to creating and promoting long-term, proactive initiatives that will advance progressive causes and will change the lives of all Americans for the better.