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Way To Be, OMB!

April 4, 2007 - by Donny Shaw

The Office of Management and Budget today released a database of all the earmarks in the Fiscal Year 2005 budget.
Hopefully they will get in the habit of putting together a database like this for all future budgets. Having this information available is a huge step forward for government transparency and accountability. But, if we really want to keep our elected officials accountable, we will need all the current information as it is put into current budgets by officials who are currently in office and will be up for reelection.

You can download a .CSV file of the database, or browse earmarks by state or agency on the OMB website. The database provides brief descriptions of the earmarks, the name of the beneficiary, and the city or town that it went to. Unfortunately — and the OMB acknowledges this limitation — the database does not identify which member of Congress sponsored the earmarks. As The Club For Growth points out:

>there are no zip codes associated with the earmarks (as far as I can tell). It only lists the name of the recipient, the city, and the state. Why is the zip code important? Listing them would enable bloggers and other interested people to match up the project with the name of the member of Congress who sponsored the earmark

The OMB states that they made the database, in part, to “encourage and inform the debate over how taxpayers’ money is spent and what they get in return.” If they are serious about that goal, they will list the sponsors of earmarks or at least the zip codes of where they went.

Regardless, in the words of Dana Chasin at OMB Watch, “this is a remarkable achievement in terms of advancing government spending transparency and, worth noting, of OMB’s own initiative — no statute or Presidential order compelled them to produce this database.”

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