JULY 03, 2006
A plan to create a public database listing how government spends billions of dollars annually, had strong bipartisan support until many politicians figured that the lucrative contracts they help secure with well-connected companies would also be accessible.
Frustrated with his party’s failure to cut government spending, Oklahoma Republican Senator Tom Coburn proposed the bill to create an internet accessible database that would list most government contracts and grants. With the touch of a computer button, hundreds of billions of dollars in annual spending would be exposed in an instant.
Initially both Democrats and Republicans widely supported the bill, but the House only passed a version that creates the database for government grant spending and omits the portion that includes contracts, which usually go to private businesses.
One Republican Congressman from Virginia, who opposes including government contracts on the proposed database, said it’s not necessary because the process is competitive and therefore self-policing.
Obviously Congressman Thomas Davis hasn’t read about the multi-billion dollar no-bid contracts Vice President Dick Cheney’s company, Halliburton, received from the U.S. Government or the disastrous $2 billion in no-bid contracts awarded by FEMA after last year’s hurricanes.
These are just a few strong examples of precisely why the public database should include government contracts as well as grants awarded to nonprofit groups. Tapscott’s Copy Desk believes exceptions should only be made for national security but otherwise all government spending should be available on the internet, including actual contract text. Captain’s Quarters encourages Capitol Hill to finally introduce some sunlight into a process that has existed in darkness for far too long.
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