New Earmark Transparency RulesJanuary 7, 2009 - by Donny Shaw
Yesterday, Democrats and Republicans in Congress announced new rules designed to increase disclosure of the earmarks that lawmakers request in the annual appropriations bills. The rules would require the earmark information to be available on lawmakers’ individual websites, early in the appropriations process, with an explanation of the earmark’s purpose and why they should be funded with taxpayer money. All would definitely improve the current system.
But Bill Allison on the Sunlight Foundation blog and Taxpayers for Common Sense have suggested a few ways that the new rules could be improved. Basically, the rules should specify a data format for lawmakers to use in disclosing their earmark requests, and, in addition to being spread across the 535 MoC’s websites, the information should be collected in one searchable, downloadable database. “Let’s first make sure that Congress gets the basic disclosure done properly, and then we–along with other groups and individuals–would be happy to find ways to add value to it, allowing for citizen input, cross-referencing with other data, and all kinds of other tools,” said Allison.