Wide-Ranging Bill Seeks to Shine More Light on Lobbying and Regulatory Process

Rep. Mike Quigley, D-Ill. Rep. Mike Quigley, D-Ill. Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif.

A grab-bag transparency bill introduced March 13 would use technology to boost public oversight of program spending, standardize agency reporting on use of the Freedom of Information Act, shed greater light on lobbying and add new requirements for judges to disclose financial investments. 

The Transparency in Government Act would also toughen online disclosure requirements for lawmakers’ personal finances, office expenses, gift reports and foreign travel. 

“The public’s trust in government has reached historic lows, causing many Americans to simply give up on Washington,” said Rep. Mike Quigley, D-Ill., who introduced legislation just in time for Sunshine Week this week. “But the mission of government matters, and we can’t lead in the face of this deficit of trust. The Transparency in Government Act shines a light on every branch of the federal government, strengthening our democracy and promoting an efficient, effective and open government.” 

The bill contains provisions that would:

  • require agencies to put all completed FOIA requests online in a format that is searchable, sortable and downloadable while tracking requests on FOIA Online;
  • improve the public’s access to White House and agency leaders’ visitor logs;
  • expand the data available on USAspending.gov to include information about leases and congressional earmarks, while establishing an online database to collect and publish data on lobbying by federal contractors;
  • establish new definitions for lobbyists and stricter rules governing how and with whom they meet;
  • require the Clerk of the House to publish vote records online in an easily searchable, structured data format, and require members to include their individual vote record on congressional websites;
  • direct congressional committees to post public hearings and markup schedules, related bill language, witness testimony, and audio and video recordings online; and
  • mandate audio recording of oral arguments and live-streaming of the recordings on the Supreme Court’s website.

The bill has drawn support from Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, the Sunlight Foundation, the Data Transparency Coalition, the Project on Government Oversight and the Electronic Privacy Information Center.

Advocacy groups were particularly interested in the bill’s provisions to require the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs to post online drafts showing changes the office makes to rules proposed by agency regulators. Another key provision would broaden the requirements for Congress and agency executive financial disclosure in the 2012 Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge (STOCK) Act to require more information from members of the judiciary. The bill would require the Government Accountability Office to monitor compliance with the law, if enacted.

“We believe that this bill contains several inventive ideas and commonsense reforms and deserves a full examination by Congress,” wrote Leslie Haymon in a blogpost for the Center for Effective Government. “Many of these proposals close loopholes that have hampered transparency and shore up open government principles that form the bedrock of an accountable government.” 

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

    Download
  • The Big Data Campaign Trail

    With everyone so focused on security following recent breaches at federal, state and local government and education institutions, there has been little emphasis on the need for better operations. This report breaks down some of the biggest operational challenges in IT management and provides insight into how agencies and leaders can successfully solve some of the biggest lingering government IT issues.

    Download
  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

    Download
  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.

    Download
  • Ongoing Efforts in Veterans Health Care Modernization

    This report discusses the current state of veterans health care

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.