Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Transparency in Federal Spending

President George W. Bush signed the Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act of 2006 (pdf) into law yesterday, September 26, 2006. This is a move in the right direction in letting the citizens of the United States know how money is being spent by the US Government.

Requirements of the Bill Include a Web site

A single searchable website, accessible by the public at no cost to access, where information about federal awards can be seen.

These federal awards include include grants, subgrants, loans, awards, cooperative agreements, and other forms of financial assistance. Also covered are contracts, subcontracts, purchase orders, task orders, and delivery orders.

Individual transactions below $25,000 aren't included, and before October 1, 2008, credit card transactions won't be covered, either.

Types of Information Covered for Federal Awards

  1. Name of the entity receiving the award;

  2. Amount of the award;

  3. Information on the award including transaction type, funding agency, the North American Industry Classification System code or Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance number (where applicable), program source, and an award title descriptive of the purpose of each funding action;

  4. Location of the entity receiving the award and the primary location of performance under the award, including the city, State, congressional district, and country;

  5. A unique identifier of the entity receiving the award and of the parent entity of the recipient, should the entity be owned by another entity; and

  6. Any other relevant information specified by the Office of Management and Budget.

Will This be Useful?

Hopefully, it will. If nothing else, it will be a rich source of information for political bloggers, who showed with the passage of this bill that they refused to let it not be passed, by working together in a bipartisan manner, to identify some stumbling blocks in its passage: Blogosphere Unites in Pursuit of Masked Senator

A number of those bloggers were invited to the White House to attend a presentation which included the signing of the Bill.

President Bush made a statement at the signing of the Bill. Here's a short snippet from that:

By allowing Americans to Google their tax dollars, this new law will help taxpayers demand greater fiscal discipline. In other words, we're arming our fellow citizens with the information that will enable them to demand we do a better job -- a better job in the executive branch and better job in the legislative branch.

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