WASHINGTON – In an effort to strengthen transparency and accountability in government, U.S. Senators Claire McCaskill of Missouri and Jon Tester of Montana have introduced a bill requiring federal agencies to publically post online all federal contracts worth more than $150,000. The legislation comes during “Sunshine Week,” a national initiative to promote open government and freedom of information.
“Taxpayers deserve to know where their money is being spent,” said McCaskill, the top-ranking Democrat on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. “In this day and age, there’s no excuse for keeping information like this secret or inaccessible. The more transparency we have, the more all of us can do to identify and cut down on wasteful spending and unethical practices.”
“Making these documents publicly available will hold government contractors accountable to the American public,” said Tester. “This legislation will ensure taxpayer dollars are spent responsibly, increase government transparency, and shine more light on big corporations.”
Every year, the federal government spends over $400 billion on government contracts. The bill introduced this week would require the government to publicly post any contract over $150,00 in an online, searchable format, allowing government accountability groups, reporters, and individuals the ability to research the data. The lack of this type of information has been problematic. For example, last year the Pentagon responded to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request about their use of a particular technology by saying that they couldn’t find that information without looking through every single contract—a process they said would cost $660 million. If the legislation that was introduced today is passed, any person could search for information like this on their own, at no cost.