Senators advocate database on federal funding

Legislation that would require the creation of an online database to track federal spending has won praise from several key senators.

“Transparency is a prerequisite to oversight and financial control,” Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) testified at the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee’s Federal Financial Management, Government Information and International Security Subcommittee hearing. The ability of citizens to know how the government spends their tax money is a basic principle of self-government, Obama said.

The hearing focused on the Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act, which would set up a searchable database online that the public could use to track federal funding of organizations. The Web site would show how much funding an organization received in each of the last 10 fiscal years, a breakdown of the transactions, and details about the organization receiving the funds.

“The reason for such broad support is simple,” said Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.). “People are beginning to realize that the only way to control spending and ensure accountability is to let the American people see exactly how their money is being spent.”

“I like to think of this bill as ‘Google for Government Spending,’” said Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), the bill’s original sponsor.

Chairwoman Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) said she would work to push the act through the committee.

Obama said senators are constantly surprised at what shows up after they vote for a bill. Having the Web site would empower people and organizations to keep the government accountable.

“It’s one of the wonderful democratizing aspects of the Internet,” he said.

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