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Help Craft the Ultimate Government Transparency Bill

March 31, 2008 - by Donny Shaw

The folks at the Sunlight Foundation have begun developing a model government transparency bill, and in the spirit of the proposal, they’re calling on the public to help them finish it through a collaborative and open process. The public release of their bill, which they have titled the Transparency In Government Act of 2008, coincides with the launch of PublicMarkup.org — a new platform designed to facilitate collaborative bill writing.

PublicMarkup.org lets you comment on specific sections of a bill (so, for example, you can suggest distinct ways a certain provision can be strengthened or a potential loophole avoided), or on the bill as a whole (so you can suggest an entirely new provision or ask broad questions about the bill’s aim). There are already some really important discussions happening on the site — jump on in there with your thoughts. As an email announcement said, “since PublicMarkup combines public participation with a substantial legislation, we expect lawmakers and staff who work on these issues to be aware of the conversations dealing with the issues they work on, so commenting on this bill may be a great opportunity to have your ideas considered.”

According to Sunlight, “the bill on PublicMarkup.org offers some initial thinking about updating current congressional disclosure requirements for the Internet age. It specifies technological and reporting requirements to make more information about lawmakers and their influencers, the work of Congress and of the executive branch meaningfully accessible to the public, with an emphasis on digitizing and publishing congressional information online.”

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