White House to post earmark info online

OMB memo on earmarks

The White House is heading to the Web in March to publicly post Congress’ earmarks in legislation, according to a new memorandum.

The Jan. 25 memo directs departments to catalog earmarks in appropriations and authorization bills and in report language to measure a clear baseline total. President Bush wants to cut that total in half by 2008.

For emphasis, the administration will post the earmark information in detail on the Internet by March 12, according to the memo written by Rob Portman, Office of Management and Budget director.

To build a baseline, departments must provide OMB with details on the earmarks from fiscal 2005 appropriations bills and certain authorization bills. Departments need to gather details, including the recipient information, cost and a brief description of the project. The information is due to OMB by Feb. 28, the memo states.

As Congress begins considering new funding bills, OMB is requiring departments to rapidly analyze the earmarks in them to help the Bush administration develop its stance on the legislation, the memo states.

OMB described earmarks as funds from Congress that specifically direct how and where the money should be spent, while minimizing the administration’s control over them.

Bush has urged the new Congress to pass earmark reform.

“Let us work together to reform the budget process, expose every earmark to the light of day and to a vote in Congress, and cut the number and cost of earmarks at least in half by the end of this session,” Bush said Jan. 23 in his State of the Union address before the annual joint session of Congress.

In 2005, there were more than 13,000 earmarks, which totaled nearly $18 billion, Bush said.

The House and Senate have set new rules for earmarking legislation

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