U.S. Senators Tom Coburn, M.D. (R-OK) and Barack Obama (D-IL) today applauded the Office of Management and Budget for launching ahead of schedule the web site www.USAspending.gov that will feature the most comprehensive searchable database of federal spending ever made available to the American public. The site is the product of legislation, the Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act (S. 2590), sponsored by Senators Coburn and Obama, that was signed into law last year.
"Today, we mark an important milestone on the path to greater government transparency," Senator Obama said. "This site helps us to achieve a very simple and powerful vision: a vision that, in a democracy, people ought to know how their government is operating. This isn't Democratic vision or a Republican vision. It's a vision that rejects the idea that government actions and decisions should be kept secret.
"We can't reduce waste, fraud and abuse without knowing how, where and why Federal money is flowing out the door," Obama added. "This site will provide a window into the federal budget so all Americans can see how their tax dollars are being spent - how their nation's resources are being used and obligated, where money is going as well as where it is not going. I thank Senator Coburn for his leadership on this effort and for all of the groups who have helped launch this website today."
"I believe this act is the most important transparency measure passed by Congress since the Freedom of Information Act. I commend Clay Johnson and Jim Nussle at OMB for their tireless work in meeting the first stage of the website's launch ahead of schedule. This site will help lift the veil of secrecy that covers so much of what happens in Washington and empower ordinary citizens, bloggers and reporters to hold their government accountable like never before. Democracy works when citizens have access to reliable information that can inform their choices," Dr. Coburn said.
Key features of www.USAspending.gov include:
* A free, searchable website that will track approximately $1 trillion in federal grants, contracts, earmarks and loans.
* Near real-time updates of data concerning federal spending. Updates can be expected every two weeks instead of quarterly, as is the current practice for existing federal grants information.
* The opportunity for the users to post comments and provide feedback about the website in a public, online user community.
* For the first time, most government spending data will be searchable by contractor or grantee and by congressional district.
* For the first time, grant recipients will receive a unique identifier that will help users track recipients.
* In January 2009, the database will include searchable information about subcontracts and subgrants.