recommended reading

House transparency caucus vows to regain public's trust in government

Twenty-seven House Republicans and Democrats kicked off a congressional transparency caucus on Thursday with a panel discussion on how the government can earn back Americans' trust.

"We're going to do a review and find out whether the public accepts the current disclosure," said Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., co-founding chairman of the caucus and ranking Republican on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

One of the group's first actions will be to ensure that information posted on the Web from every branch of government is consistent, searchable and downloadable, he said. The uniform level of reporting would allow citizens to have a better context for comparing spending figures such as federal officials' compensation and earmarks, or appropriations for lawmakers' pet projects.

The goal of the caucus, which was announced in March, is to advance transparency and accountability across government. Measuring these goals will require online access to government information in formats that can be searched and downloaded for free, according to the caucus' principles. The group plans to make such information available by educating lawmakers, taking legislative action and overseeing existing polices.

"Our greatest challenge and mandate in government is regaining the public's trust," said Rep. Mike Quigley, D-Ill., the caucus' other co-founding chairman. "It means not just paying lip service, but taking financial responsibility, transparency and ethics as seriously as the voters want us to. If we can make the tough decisions and prove these as our priorities to the public, trust will follow."

Thursday's event included a dialogue among leaders from several government transparency groups, including the Project on Government Oversight and the Sunlight Foundation.

POGO General Counsel Scott Amey, who focuses on contract oversight, said he hopes the caucus will eradicate the stovepipe mentality in agencies that has created numerous databases and systems but little useful information. Too often, he said, he has to search one database to find a contract, another to locate a request for proposals and a third for the track record on the contractor's past projects. "Due to the lack of transparency, unhealthy programs are allowed to fester for far too long . . . and that leads to waste, fraud and abuse," Amey noted.

Following the panel, the packed room in the Rayburn House Office Building asked activists questions and commented on the formation of the caucus.

J.H. Snider, president of iSolon, a nonprofit institute focused on using information technology to bring about democratic reform, said, "You've got a very impressive caucus here, but I don't see the democratic leadership," referring to influential representatives such as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer, D-Md.

Daniel Schuman, policy counsel at the Sunlight Foundation and panel moderator, acknowledged the caucus was a work in progress. Sunlight announced on Thursday it will serve as an advisory committee to the caucus. Schuman, who is the director of the new advisory committee, pointed out that the caucus includes about 6 percent of the House and some of its members hold leadership positions on committees.

"Doing this across party lines, across ideologies . . . I think that is an encouraging sign," he said.

Caucus members include:

Melissa Bean, D-Ill.

Bruce Braley, D-Iowa

Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah

Lloyd Doggett, D-Texas

Vernon Ehlers, R-Mich.

Bill Foster, D-Ill.

Wally Herger, R-Calif.

Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C.

Steve Israel, D-N.Y.

Darrell Issa, R-Calif.

Walter Jones, R-N.C.

Jim Jordan, R-Ohio

Doug Lamborn, R-Colo.

Daniel Lipinski, D-Ill.

Dave Loebsack, D-Iowa

Blaine Luetkemeyer, R-Mo.

Patrick McHenry, R-N.C.

Walt Minnick, D-Idaho

Scott Murphy, D-N.Y.

Jared Polis, D-Colo.

Mike Quigley, D-Ill.

Tim Ryan, D-Ohio

Aaron Schock, R-Ill.

Mark Souder, R-Ind.

Jackie Speier, D-Calif.

Mark Steven, Kirk, R-Ill.

Greg Walden, R-Ore.

Threatwatch Alert

Thousands of cyber attacks occur each day

See the latest threats

JOIN THE DISCUSSION

Close [ x ] More from Nextgov
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from Nextgov.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Modernizing IT for Mission Success

    Surveying Federal and Defense Leaders on Priorities and Challenges at the Tactical Edge

    Download
  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

    Download
  • Effective Ransomware Response

    This whitepaper provides an overview and understanding of ransomware and how to successfully combat it.

    Download
  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

    Download
  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.