So much for government transparency

March 12, 2009 at 10:02 pm Leave a comment

Watchdog groups and government transparency fans got pretty excited a few weeks ago when they heard that House members promised to put contracts for the $800 billion economic stimulus package online.

But the Washington Independent reports today that, surprise surprise, these contracts aren’t really going to be online. Government contractors opposed making the contracts public, and lawmakers conceded. The final stimulus bill requires only a summary of the contracts to be posted online, and only if the contracts are worth more than $500,000.

Does Congress honestly think that this satisfies calls for more transparency and accountability in government? Activists and watchdog groups are going to have a pretty difficult time gleaning whether taxpayer money is being spent wisely from a summary. The Coalition for Accountable Recovery agrees, and is demanding that:

“any organization that receives funds from the city – such as a contractor hired to build a school and that contractor’s subcontractors and suppliers – be required to report on their use of federal funds if above a de minimis amount of money.”

It’s pretty obvious that wise spending of taxpayer dollars is not one of America’s strong points right now. Take the financial bailout. Remember AIG’s spa trip? And the egregious bonuses of CEOs of companies taking bailout money? Not to mention the auto industry’s use of corporate jets when flying in to Washington, D.C. to ask the government for a bailout.

These actions enraged taxpayers (including mysef), and for good reason. So why are lawmakers making it easier for this type of irresponsible spending to continue with the economic stimulus? Making information public and posting it online is a great first step toward better accountability.

The Coalition for Accountable Recovery has set up a Google group where you can find out more information on their work and how you can help. You can check it out here.


Entry filed under: Advocacy, Outrages. Tags: , , , , , , .

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