Monday, November 12, 2012

The Phrase "Open Government" is NOT an Oxymoron

Happy Birthday!  The Honest Leadership and Open Government Act (HLOGA) is now five years old.  But has it made government any more open or honest?  Many people might say “uh, no.”  In fact, most people would say “no.”  Lobbyists.info and the George Washington School of Political Management recently released a report (available at www.lobbyists.info) that looks at this question from the perspective of lobbyists.  Survey respondents do, in general, believe that HLOGA has greatly increased the amount of information available to the public and decreased the ability of lobbyists to impact legislative decisions (an outcome the American people seem to want). 

I’m sure you greet that statement with a fair amount of skepticism.  But do you really KNOW that hasn’t happened?  It’s in vogue these days to say that it’s impossible to learn what special interests are doing in D.C..  Before you say that (or even think it), go to the lobbying disclosure database at http://lobbyingdisclosure.house.gov/ or the Sunlight Foundation at www.sunlightfoundation.com.  I promise you’ll learn more than you want to about who is lobbying for or against what.

Projects to increase government openness -- like the Sunlight Foundation, www.OpenSecrets.org (a site that tracks campaign contributions) and www.Legistorm.org (a site that tracks information about Congressional staff) flourished after the passage of HLOGA.  Indeed, many of these organizations were instrumental to their passage.  So before you get all outraged about the lack of transparency, go see what’s out there.  And check out who is lobbying for the issues you like as well as against them.  You might be surprised.  It’s not all corporations and business interests.  Many lobbyists are representing day-to-day interests – and they need your help to make a difference.

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1 comment:

Adney Abram said...

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