Petitioners want Katrina contracts online

Proponents of open government are petitioning the Bush administration to post Hurricane Katrina relief work contracts online.

The advocacy group OpenTheGovernment.org sent an e-mail urging other organizations to sign an e-mail letter asking President Bush to post all Katrina-related spending documents on the Internet and follow Freedom of Information Act guidelines.

The bipartisan list of signatories includes the Electronic Privacy Information Center, the Federation of American Scientists, OpenTheGovernment.org, Mark Tapscott of the Heritage Foundation and several press associations.

The organizers hope to prevent the misuse of taxpayer dollars by disclosing how officials spend public money.

"Congress has put $62.3 billion into Hurricane Katrina relief, with billions more expected in help for Gulf Coast recovery efforts,” the letter states. “With the federal government spending so much so quickly, opportunities for waste and fraud abound."

Specifically, supporters want officials to publish online copies of every contract, requisition, task or delivery order, agreement and other authorization for spending on Katrina relief and reconstruction.

Citing federal law, the movement’s leaders request that the government post any documents of broad public interest.

"The 1996 amendments to [FOIA] require government to make documents in its possession available in an electronic reading room -- such as the Internet -- if the government expects to receive multiple FOIA requests for the documents," the letter states. "These documents meet this standard."

Petitioners are demanding that the documents go online as soon as the government signs contracts, approves checks or disburses money.

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