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Thursday, July 27, 2006

Senate Committee Approves Spending Database Bill

Here's the statement just issued by Sen. Tom Coburn:

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) - U.S. Senators Tom Coburn, M.D., R-OK, Barack Obama, D-IL, John McCain, R-AZ, and Tom Carper, D-DE, today urged the full Senate to pass S. 2590, the "Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act," a bill that will create a Google-like search engine and database to track approximately $1 trillion in federal grants, contracts, earmarks and loans. The Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs approved S. 2590 unanimously today. The House has already passed similar legislation that is limited to grant disclosure only.

"Passing this bill will help end the culture of secrecy in Washington and restore some measure of the public's confidence in government. Technology has made it possible, like never before, to fulfill our founders' vision of enabling all citizens to understand our nation's finances, investigate abuses and hold elected officials accountable," Dr. Coburn said, adding that a hearing being held today in the House Government Reform Committee on abuses in homeland security contracting highlights the urgent need to include contracts in the database.

"All Americans deserve to know where their money is being spent. 'Googling' the government will not only help expose and eliminate waste, but dispel misconceptions about the scope of our commitments. Many Americans, for example, assume we are spending a large percentage of our budget on foreign assistance when we are not. Whether you're on the left or right, there is no worthy argument against transparency," Obama said.

"If we're going to hold the federal government accountable for its performance, then we need to empower the public with basic information about who's receiving federal dollars and what they're doing with them. This bill will shed some much-needed light on the activities of most federal agencies, allowing the public to decide for themselves whether their tax dollars are well spent," Carper said.

During a July 18 hearing on the bill in the Federal Financial Management Subcommittee, McCain called the plan "the tool necessary to put us on track to real accountability and reform."