Tuesday, September 26, 2006

President Bush Signs Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act

The Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act is a good first step. Next step should be to make sure every representative actually reads the bills they're voting on.

From White House Press Release (video):
...You know, we spend a lot of time and a lot of effort collecting your money, and we should show the same amount of effort in reporting how we spend it. Every year, the federal government issues more than $400 billion in grants, and more than $300 billion in contracts to corporations, associations, and state and local governments. Taxpayers have a right to know where that money is going, and you have a right to know whether or not you're getting value for your money...

...And now Congress has come forth with an additional sense of accountability here in Washington, additional way for taxpayers to figure out whether or not we're being wise with your money. And the Federal Funding Accountability Act -- Accountability and Transparency Act will create a new website that will list government grants and contracts greater than $25,000. We'll list all grants except for those above $25,000, except for those that must remain classified for national security reasons.

The website will allow our citizens to go online, type in the name of any company, association, or state or locality and find out exactly what grants and contracts they've been awarded. It will allow citizens to call up the name and location of entities receiving federal funds, and will provide them with the purpose of the funding, the amount of money provided, the agency providing the funding and other relevant information.

By allowing Americans to Google their tax dollars, this new law will help taxpayers demand greater fiscal discipline. In other words, we're arming our fellow citizens with the information that will enable them to demand we do a better job -- a better job in the executive branch and better job in the legislative branch.

Information on earmarks will no longer be hidden deep in the pages of a federal budget bill, but just a few clicks away. This legislation will give the American people a new tool to hold their government accountable for spending decisions. When those decisions are made in broad daylight, they will be wiser and they will be more restrained. This is a good piece of legislation, and I congratulate the members here.

Recently the House made an important rule change that will also improve transparency in the legislative process. Under the rule change, the sponsor of each project will now be disclosed before the bills come to a vote. This is a wise change. It will shine the light on earmarks. It's going to help the American taxpayers know whether or not they're getting their money's worth here in Washington...


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