On October 10, OMB Watch and The Center for Responsive Politics launched databases that provide the public with detailed information on federal spending. The three new tools were made possible by grants from the Sunlight Foundation, which supports using “new information technologies to ensure greater transparency and accountability by the government, help reduce corruption, and foster public trust in the institutions of democracy.”
Fedspending.org, created by OMB, is updated every six months and focuses on supplying the American people with information on people and organizations that receive government contracts, grants, and loans and how much they are receiving. Motivation for creating the site came from years of frustration over not being able to obtain information about federal contracts and grants.
The Center for Responsive Politics created the other two new web tools that can be found at OpenSecrets.org. The Personal Financial Disclosures database provides recent reports for net worth, major holdings, liabilities, and transactions, as well as sources of income, gifts, travel reimbursements, outside positions, and agreements for members of Congress, the president, vice president, and other officials. The searchable site can compare the net worth of politicians, determine who owns stock in a particular industry and makes it easy to recognize potential conflicts of interest. The second new database lists trips taken by Senators, Congressman, and their staffers, both domestic and abroad. Search by name, date, destination, purpose, or by the private sponsors who paid for them. It currently tracks about 2,800 trips from early 2005 through 2006, valued at nearly $5.7 million, and is updated at least monthly.