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Friday, July 14, 2006

PORKBUSTERS UPDATE: Senate Panel Asks For Testimony on Impact of Federal Spending Database on Journalism

Sen. Tom Coburn will convene a hearing July 18 of the Senate's Subcommittee on Federal Financial Management, Government Information and International Security to "highlight the lack of transparency in federal spending decisions, as well as the merits of legislation to create a website disclosing the recipients of all federal funding."

There will be two panels, with the first consisting of senators John McCain, R-AZ, and Barack Obama, D-IL, who are with Coburn co-sponsors of the Oklahoma senator's proposal to create a publicly accessible, searchable database of all federal spending, subject only to common-sense exemptions such as national security.

The second panel will include Gary Bass, founder and executive director of OMB Watch, a liberal-oriented citizens watchdog group, Eric Brenner, Director, Maryland Governor's Grants Office, Office of the Governor, and yours truly, in my capacity as editorial page editor of The Washington Examiner and proprietor of Tapscott's Copy Desk blog.

I've been asked to address what I believe will be the impact on journalism of having the proposed database available to the public. The basic thrust of my testimony will be to explain why I believe the existence of a comprehensive public database of federal spending will have a major impact on journalism, just as did the public availability of campaign finance databases.

If you haven't already, check out the quote from Thomas Jefferson on the importance of transparency in government spending. That Jefferson fellow was really smart!

Go here for more information about the hearing and Sen. Coburn's activities as chairman of the panel, which is part of the Senate's Committee on Homeland Security.