Lawmaker wants more technology for transparency

Bill was inspired by public project to draft legislation

A House bill that a lawmaker drafted based in part on public input via a transparency advocacy group would require increased use of new technologies and more disclosure from obbyists and lawmakers.

Rep. Mike Quigley (D-Ill.) introduced the bill, H.R. 4389, on March 25. Its key provisions include: 

• Establishing new definitions for lobbyists and stricter rules governing how and with whom they meet.
• Creating a searchable, sortable, and downloadable database for spending earmarks.
• Improving public access to information about members of Congress, including disclosure of financial information, travel reports, gifts, and earmark requests.

Quigley’s decision to create the transparency bill was spurred in part because he came across a Sunlight Foundation project that asked the public to help draft open government legislation, according to a blog post by Lisa Rosenberg, the Sunlight Foundation's Government Affairs Consultant.

In 2008, the foundation put together a package of government transparency legislation and asked the public to provide input on ways to improve the bill, according to Rosenberg.

“We received hundreds of thoughtful and substantive comments, and incorporated many of them into a second version the bill,” Rosenberg wrote in her blog. “It is the bill that you helped draft that became the framework for the legislation introduced in the House of Representatives today.”

Quigley also unveiled the Transparency Caucus, which he co-chairs, according to an announcement by Quigley. The group was formed to help enforce current transparency laws and advocate for new initiatives, according to Quigley.

About the Author

Doug Beizer is a staff writer for Federal Computer Week.

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Reader comments

Wed, Apr 7, 2010 M Reston, VA

It's a feeble start. But it is a start! Kudos for this Rep - a Democrat even. Information Technology can make government more transparent. And transparency would make the process more accountable.

Fri, Mar 26, 2010 Howard D Marlowe United States

What Members of Congress don't try to control is their lust for the campaign dollars that lobbyists (registered and unregistered) provide. All this legislative transparency is a benign coverup of the power of large sums of political contributions to skew the legislative process.

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