Senate Approves Bill to Bring More Transparency to Federal Spending

The Senate has approved legislation passed out of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee earlier this year that would increase the transparency of federal spending decisions.

The measure, entitled the Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act, S. 2590, would require the federal government to create and maintain a searchable website where the public can view information on how federal funds are spent. Committee Chairman Susan Collins, R-Me., and Ranking Member Joe Lieberman, D-Conn., worked with the bill’s original co-sponsors Senators Tom Coburn, R-Okla., and Barak Obama, D-Ill., to make improvements in the legislation. Eventually, the bill won 44 co-sponsors.

The bill would direct the Office of Management and Budget to ensure that a searchable public web site is established that lists federal funding awards, including grants, contracts, and loans. All transactions under $25,000 would be exempted from the reporting requirement, as well as awards that are classified.

“American taxpayers deserve greater transparency in how their tax dollars are spent, because transparency is a key element of accountability. I believe this bill will aid in making this concept a reality,” said Senator Collins.

“This proposal builds on my E-Government Act of 2002 by making government information as accessible as possible to the public,” Lieberman said. “A searchable database of billions of dollars worth of federal grants, contracts, and loans will increase transparency of federal spending, provide taxpayers with a tool to hold the government accountable, and reduce fraud.”

HSGAC reported out the bill on July 27, 2006. Passing the legislation was a major goal of advocacy groups across the political spectrum.