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Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Banks Give Customers Their Monthly Statements and Cancelled Checks Online. Why Can't the Federal Government Do It For Taxpayers, Too?

The truth is, if they started now, within two years the federal government could be posting every check it cuts on the Internet. Don't believe the politicians and bureaucrats who claim putting all government expenditures and the supporting documentation on the Internet is too complex, too costly and would take years.

Eric Kavanaugh is in the business of applying web technology to the tasks of putting such transactions on the Internet and he knows it can be done by the government, just as it already is by private business. He believes Hurricane Katrina recovery spending is an excellent occasion to get the ball rolling:

"What this means for government is that every check the feds cut - with the exception of entitlement and top-secret programs - should be visible online, just as consumers can now see their own canceled checks via the Web.
"Seeing is believing; and when Americans everywhere can see all those checks from their laptops, it's fair to say that bureaucrats and contractors alike will be on their best (or at least better) behavior.
"Furthermore, since the Internet is interactive, each one of those government checks should be linked in succession: to the purchase orders that authorized them, the contracts that generated those purchase orders, the approved proposals that led to the contracts, the losing proposals that were also considered, the requests for proposal that solicited all relevant proposals, the allocations which authorized expenditures, the bills that set in motion the allocations, who voted which way on each, who failed to vote (a highlight on these derelicts), and the processes by which those bills became law.

"While that might sound incredibly complex, the truth is that technology today is so advanced, computers so fast, software so powerful, methodologies so polished and practiced, that accomplishing this system could be done inside of two years.
"In fact, templates already exist throughout the chambers of corporate America, in large part due to the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 (developed in response to the shenanigans of Enron). And if public corporations must answer to the government, shouldn't the government answer to the public? What's good for the goose ..."

Go here for Eric's complete description of the whys and hows. Come on, Blogosphere, how can we make this happen?