I enjoyed your recent editorial "Public spending should be public" [May 20]. At the Sunlight Foundation, we heartily agree and would love to see similar (and better) systems implemented at the federal level. There is an important recent development that advances this cause in Congress, with the sponsorship of Rep. Steve Israel (D-Dix Hills).
The proposed Public Online Information Act would require all government-held information that is already required to be publicly available to be posted online, in a variety of formats. This legislation would create new opportunities for government accountability and free data for use by citizens or journalists, among others.
The legislation addresses the problem that, although significant amounts of government information must be publicly available, much of that information is hard to find and difficult to use. This bill would ensure that information from executive branch agencies would be available to everyone with a few keystrokes on a computer.
Some examples of information not available online include reports disclosing lobbying activities by government contractors and grantees, high-level government officials' statements of personal financial interests, and executive branch officials' travel paid for by third parties.
Gabriela Schneider, Washington
Editor's note: The writer is the communications director of the Sunlight Foundation, a nonpartisan nonprofit organization that advocates for more transparency in government.
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