Spending database bill clears first hurdle

A key Senate committee approved legislation requiring the Office of Management and Budget to develop and maintain a massive database to track all kinds of federal spending.

At a bill markup session this morning, the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee approved a slightly altered version of the bill, S. 2590, in a unanimous vote. The legislation now moves to the full Senate for a vote.

The bill, introduced by Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), would direct OMB to develop a massive Web site cataloging just about every dollar the government spends on contracts, subcontracts, grants, subgrants, loans, awards and other financial assistance.

The database must be searchable by agency, geography, industry, congressional district and types of federal funding.

If enacted into law, the bill would require the site to be operational by Jan. 1, 2008, a change from the initial draft which stated the database should be functional by January 2007.

Committee chairwoman Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) said during the markup that the legislation is “enormously important because it will foster transparency in federal funding.”

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