Articles Tagged with Government Transparency

by

From the Free Government Information Blog (by way of beSpacific) comes word that the Congressional Research Service issued a report on November 30, 2011, titled “Congressional Lawmaking: A Perspective on Secrecy and Transparency.”  The 19-page report briefly outlines the history of the tension between secrecy and transparency in Congress, reviews the issues that emerged on this front during the formation of the 2011 Joint Select Deficit Reduction Committee, looks at various parts of lawmaking that are typically imbued with closed door activities, and closes with some summary observations.

All well and good, but . . .  is it just me, or does anyone else find it the topic slightly ironic given that the CRS itself seems reluctant to release unclassified and non-confidential (public domain) copies of their reports in any systematic way, and no comprehensive list of these reports is even publicly available?  As the first sentence of the Report notes, “Openness is fundamental to representative government.”  That openness should include access these valuable public policy documents paid for with our tax dollars.

CRS Resources


Posted in: Legal Research

by

Last month, while researching a post on the politics and money site, MapLight.org, I came across another interesting online resource: OpenGovernment.org. The site is still very much in beta, but after having had a chance to check it out a little bit more this weekend, I thought it worth mentioning here to our readers.

The goal of OpenGovernment, supported in part by the great folks who run OpenCongress.org, is to provide and promote government transparency on the state, city and local levels. Still in its infancy, the site has launched and tracks the following states: California, Louisiana, Maryland, Texas, and Wisconsin. Given that Justia is based in the Golden State, I decided to take a look at what resources and information are available for California. Similar to the tools available at OpenCongress, OpenGovernment enables users to drill down and learn more about what’s happening in Sacramento by looking at individual bills, following specific legislators in the Senate and Assembly, or browsing by issue. In addition, the site has its own “Money Trail” which lists publicly-available information about campaign contributions made to members of the California state legislature. As examples, check out Big Tobacco, Telecommunications and Casinos and Racetracks. You can also look up your representatives by entering a ZIP code or an address, and one hopes in the future that we’ll also see a mash up geo-tracking feature that displays bills which specifically impact where one lives, similar to the feature found on govpulse.