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February 23rd, 2011 by Melanie Buck · No Comments

Hello, faithful followers!

If you are looking for the Day in Transparency or Day in Sunlight daily roundups, do not fear. They have been moved to the newly launched Advisory Committee on Transparency website. From now on you can get your daily transparency updates here.

Loyally in transparency,

The Sunlight Foundation

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The Day in Transparency 2/17/11

February 17th, 2011 by Melanie Buck · No Comments

Here is Thursday’s look at transparency-related news items, congressional committee hearings, transparency-related bills introduced in Congress, and transparency-related events.

News Roundup:

  • Some are criticizing the Obama administration for reneging on transparency after HUD told housing advocates that they must sign confidentiality agreements to continue participating in a rental policy working group. (Politico)
  • House Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) issued his first subpoena of the 112th Congress seeking documents related to Countrywide Financial’s VIP loan program, “Friends of Angelo.” He is pursuing an investigation into whether or not federal officials received special deals on mortgages and rental agreements. (Roll Call $)
  • Sherron Watkins, the Enron whistle-blower, does not think the proposed whistle-blower protections mandated by the Dodd-Frank Act will be effective. (CFO)
  • A recently released CRS report suggests that Congress does not have to remain a bystander when it comes to opening the federal government. (Tech President)
  • White House spokesman Bill Burton and Sean Sweeney, a senior aide, are leaving the White House to form a political consulting firm. (Politico)
  • Agencies are planning to use one quarter of their requested $80 billion information technology budget in 2012 to move e-mail and other tools to the cloud. (Federal Times)
  • The Government Accountability Office released its biannual High Risk List, detailing 30 federal programs that are in trouble. Lawmakers say this list serves as an oversight guide as they plan hearings and streamline agency programs. (Federal News Radio)
  • Rep. Hal Rogers (R-KY) has a reputation for being the prince of pork, but he is quickly proving that as House Appropriations Chairman he is willing to slash spending. (Roll Call $)
  • While criminal penalties for leaking classified information currently only apply to specific categories of classified information, legislation introduced this week by Sen. Benjamin Cardin (D-MD) seeks to expand the application of criminal penalties to include all classified information. (Project on Government Secrecy)
  • As required by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, a national, interactive map identifying which communities do and do not have access to broadband is set to be released by the Commerce Department on February 17th. (National Journal)
  • Opinion: Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison and Rep. Fred Upton say that proposed FCC regulations are a threat to online innovation and need to be included in President Obama’s review of burdensome regulations. (Politico) Despite criticism from House Republicans, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski maintained that the agency chose the right balance. (Washington Times)(Wall Street Journal)

Relevant committee hearings scheduled for 2/17:

  • None.

Relevant bills introduced:

  • S. 347. A bill to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to provide for reporting and disclosure by State and local public employee retirement pension plans; to the Committee on Finance.
  • S. 348. A bill to amend title 28, United States Code, to provide an Inspector General for the judicial branch, and for other purposes; to the Committee on the Judiciary.
  • S. 354. A bill to amend the Classified Information Procedures Act to improve the protection of classified information and for other purposes; to the Committee on the Judiciary.
  • S. 358. A bill to codify and modify regulatory requirements of Federal agencies; to the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs.
  • H.R. 703. A bill to amend section 798 of title 18, United States Code, to provide penalties for disclosure of classified information related to certain intelligence activities of the United States, and for other purposes; to the Committee on the Judiciary.
  • H.R. 727. A bill to amend title 28, United States Code, to provide an Inspector General for the judicial branch, and for other purposes; to the Committee on the Judiciary.

Transparency events scheduled for 2/17:

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The Day in Transparency 2/14/11

February 14th, 2011 by Melanie Buck · No Comments

Here is Monday’s look at the week’s transparency-related news items, congressional committee hearings, transparency-related bills introduced in Congress, and transparency-related events.

News Roundup:

  • Pratt & Whitney and GE lead the advocacy efforts over an engine for a new U.S. fighter jet, dishing out the dollars to hire numerous consultants and lobbyists. (Roll Call $)
  • Wall Street lobbyists are working to limit the new whistleblower protections through provisions such as internal reporting requirements. (CNBC)
  • The Federal Communications Commission’s new online mapping site, IssueMap.org, aims to help the overwhelming amount of open government data make sense. (Federal Computer Week)
  • Earl Devaney, chairman of the board in charge of relaying Recovery Act recipient reports, announced his support for multi-tier reporting, a method that would provide an increase in oversight compared to the traditional prime and sub-recipient reporting. (OMB Watch)
  • The Environmental Protection Agency’s open-government e-rulemaking experiment, the Regulations.gov Exchange website, is drawing to a close, after drawing almost 20,000 online visits. (Federal Computer Week)
  • The newly released Federal Cloud Computing Strategy outlines cloud computing’s benefits and relevant considerations, highlights government cloud computing case studies, and delineates the individual roles and responsibilities of government bodies in facilitating cloud adoption. (Information week)
  • House Republican leadership, led by Majority Leader Boehner, is taking a zero tolerance approach to ethical transgressions. (Roll Call $)
  • Opinion: Deregulation is not the way to create jobs and will not lead to a more transparent, efficient government. (Politico)
  • Opinion: President Obama’s Executive Order calling for a review of regulations is a step in the right direction, as regulations need weeding every once in awhile. (Federal News Radio)

Relevant committee hearings scheduled for 2/14-2/18:

  • None.

Relevant bills introduced:

  • H.R. 653. A bill to amend the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act to improve regulations dealing with the disclosure by financial institutions of nonpublic personal information, and for other purposes; to the Committee on Financial Services.
  • H.R. 672. A bill to terminate the Election Assistance Commission, and for other purposes; to the Committee on House Administration, and in addition to the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, for a period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker, in each case for consideration of such provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the committee concerned.
  • H.J. Res. 26. A joint resolution proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States relating to Congressional succession; to the Committee on the Judiciary.

Transparency events scheduled for 2/14-2/18:

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The Day in Sunlight 2/14/2011

February 14th, 2011 by Katie Dixon · No Comments

Here is a look at what happened recently on the Sunlight network.

  • Paul Blumenthal began the day with several transparency headlines including a vacated proposal by the Obama Administration to enhance contract transparency, Bloomberg’s information lobbying, and more. (Sunlight Foundation Blog)
  • Nicole Aro has announced the Influence Explorer Valentine’s Day cards highlighting the lobbying history of February 14th’s biggest industries. (Sunlight Foundation Blog)
  • Paul Blumenthal reported that proposed policies to end or vastly shrink the role of government in the mortgage market through government sponsored enterprises Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac stem from lobbying prohibition. (Sunlight Foundation Blog)
  • Paul Blumenthal highlighted an article from Talking Points Memo that detailed how the Senate is still sort of keeping secret holds secret. (Sunlight Foundation Blog)
  • Paul Blumenthal ended the day with what to expect in 2012 from the Koch family, legislative branch spending defenders, and more. (Sunlight Foundation Blog)
  • Ryan Sibley reported that big lobbyists are battling for big and small clients over Dodd-Frank fee cap. (Sunlight Reporting Group)
  • Tom Lee unveiled a piece of mixed-media art inspired by Sunlight by Phylum Coredata. (Sunlight Labs Blog)
  • Keenan Steiner reported on the congressional member who are romancing donors at fundraisers on Valentine’s Day. (Party Time Blog)
  • Take a look at the previous day’s transparency-related news items, congressional committee hearings, transparency-related bills introduced in Congress, and transparency related events. (The Open House Project)

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The Day in Transparency 2/11/11

February 11th, 2011 by Melanie Buck · No Comments

Here is Friday’s look at transparency-related news items, congressional committee hearings, transparency-related bills introduced in Congress, and transparency-related events.

News Roundup:

  • The 13 new Republicans on the House Armed Services Committee, the “Lucky 13″ as they call themselves, are soliciting fundraising help from major lobbyists and defense contractors. (Project on Government Oversight)
  • The Obama administration announced that it was vacating a proposal aimed at increasing contract transparency that would have amended the Federal Acquisition Regulation to enable the online posting of contracts and other orders. (Government Executive)
  • Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO)  re-introduced the Non-Federal Employee Whistleblower Protection Act of 2011, a bill to increase whistleblower protections for federal contractor employees. (Project on Government Oversight)
  • Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ) announced that he will be retiring at the end of this Congress. (Washington Times) Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and John Cornyn (R-TX) are vying to succeed him as GOP Whip. (Roll Call $) For his Senate seat, if Rep. Giffords (D-AZ) decides to run and her health permits, she would be hard to beat. (Washington Times)
  • The White House blocked a potential appointee to lead the National Flood Insurance Program due to President Obama’s executive order mandating that all appointees sign an ethics pledge which, among other provisions, prohibits any communication with former clients except in general public meetings. (The Hill)
  • Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington submitted a letter to the Office of Congressional Ethics alleging that lawmakers who habitually sleep in their Congressional offices are violating House rules and tax laws. (Roll Call $)
  • The Treasury Department submitted the Obama administration’s initial recommendations for reforming the housing market, including limiting the government’s future role and eliminating Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac entirely. (Politico)(The Hill)
  • Lawyers on behalf of Michael Scanlon, one-time business partner of lobbyist Jack Abramoff, argued that he should not be sent to prison for his part in the lobbying scandal. (Politico) Fraser Verrusio, former aide to Rep. Don Young (R-AK), was also just convicted of playing a part in the scandal. (News Times)
  • Since the mid-point of his term, President Obama has been steadily improving his compliance with the Sunlight Before Signing pledge. (CATO)
  • Ranking member on the Legislative Branch Subcommittee, Rep. Mike Honda (D-CA), is pushing back against spending cuts for important projects. (Roll Call $)
  • Oklahoma joined those states who offer their constituents open data portals this week with the launch of data.ok.gov. (Tech President)
  • Stan Collender, a federal budget expert at Qorvis Communications, said he thinks there is an over 50 percent chance that there will be a government shutdown, if only because Republicans want to prove to the Tea Party that they are willing to do it. (Federal Times)

Relevant committee hearings scheduled for 2/11:

  • None.

Relevant bills introduced:

  • H.R. 606. A bill to establish a Commission to provide for the abolishment of Federal programs for which a public need does not exist, to periodically review the efficiency and public need for Federal programs, and for other purposes
  • H.R. 611. A bill to foster transparency about the commercial use of personal information, provide consumers with meaningful choice about the collection, use, and disclosure of such information, and for other purposes
  • H.R. 633. A bill to rescind unused earmarks; to the Committee on Appropriations, and in addition to the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, for a period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker, in each case for consideration of such provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the committee concerned.
  • H.R. 638. A bill to impose a moratorium on the use of appropriated funds for official travel outside of the United States by Members, officers, and employees of the House of Representatives until the Comptroller General issues a report on the costs of such travel and makes recommendations regarding appropriate restrictions and reporting requirements on such travel; to the Committee on House Administration.
  • H. Res. 82. A resolution amending the Rules of the House of Representatives to establish the Committee on the Elimination of Nonessential Federal Programs; to the Committee on Rules.

Transparency events scheduled for 2/11:

  • Tech@State. Office of eDiplomacy, U.S. State Department. 8:00am. 320 21st St., NW, Virginia Avenue and 21st St., NW entrance.

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The Day in Sunlight 2/11/2011

February 11th, 2011 by Katie Dixon · No Comments

Here is a look at what happened yesterday on the Sunlight network.

  • Paul Blumenthal began the day with several transparency headlines including the unveiling of the Real Time Congress API from Sunlight Labs, news that low corporate tax rates are aided by lobbying, and more. (Sunlight Foundation Blog)
  • Paul Blumenthal reported that lobbyists help lower corporate tax rates for companies investing in alternative energy. (Sunlight Foundation Blog)
  • Zubedah Nanfuka included the weekly roundup of bloggers including bloggers from Vermont, Hawaii, Indiana, Rhode Island, North Dakota, and more. (Sunlight Foundation Blog)
  • Scott Stadum named PostRank his Tool for Transparency, highlighting its use for analyzing engagement. (Sunlight Foundation Blog)
  • Paul Blumenthal ended the day highlighting headlines from Think Progress on the Chamber of Commerce, Washington Post on convictions for Jack Abramoff-related crimes, and more. (Sunlight Foundation Blog)
  • Take a look at the previous day’s transparency-related news items, congressional committee hearings, transparency-related bills introduced in Congress, and transparency related events. (The Open House Project)

No CommentsTags: openhouseproject

The Day in Transparency 2/10/11

February 10th, 2011 by Melanie Buck · No Comments

Here is Thursday’s look at the week’s transparency-related news items, congressional committee hearings, transparency-related bills introduced in Congress, and transparency-related events.

News Roundup:

  • Disclosure reports indicate that for the fourth consecutive six-month period, lobbying firms and their clients have sent fewer funds toward Congressional charities. (Roll Call $)
  • It is not news to lobbyists that the big financial bill passed last year left room for regulators and rulemakers to make a big difference in the bill’s implementation. (NPR)
  • Former lobbyists and consultants from Morlowe & Co., a top appropriations lobby shop, started a free monthly publication listing federal grants and programs available to state and local governments in October 2010 to help officials find funding without K Street’s help. (The Hill)
  • Energy lobbyists are uncertain how freshman Republicans will deal with issues such as offshore drilling and nuclear energy. (Politico)
  • Despite insiders claiming that 75 percent of lawmakers think earmarks are an appropriate use of Congressional authority, most think earmarks had gotten out of control and had to go. (Washington Times)
  • In most major corporate financial scandals, whistleblowers could have prevented disaster, but major corporate companies insist that they can police themselves, making the Dodd-Frank whistleblower law unnecessary. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Seventy-four House Democrats are urging Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas to recuse himself from any health care reform cases, citing reports that his wife has financially benefited from efforts to repeal the legislation. (Politico)
  • Lawyers for Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay are asking for a retrial based on misapplication of the state’s election code, juror misconduct, and the possible unconstitutionality of state campaign finance laws. (Politico)
  • The Pennsylvania State House gave final approval to an idea pushed by Gov. Tom Corbett to establish a searchable website containing expenditures of the Legislature, state agencies and the judiciary. (Pittsburgh Tribune-Review)
  • Seattle is celebrating the first anniversay of its open data portal this month, one of the most inclusive data repositories provided by any city thus far. (Tech President)
  • Republican leaders say they are learning from their mistakes as they try to figure out how to maintain party unity while in the majority. (Roll Call $) (The Hill)
  • The Federal Communications Commission has developed a public platform that allows anyone to copy and paste in complicated data and create interactive, easy-to-understand maps. (Tech President)
  • Rep. Chris Lee (R-NY) resigned yesterday after allegations arose that he pursued a date with a woman on Craigslist, despite being married, and sent her a revealing photo of himself.(Roll Call $)(Politico)
  • Brian Wild, one of House Speaker Boehner’s top legislative advisers, is headed to the lobbying firm Mehlman Vogel Castagnetti. (The Hill)
  • Opinion: The Director of Defense Procurement and Acquisition Policy’s January memo stating that the Defense Contract Audit Agency will, in several areas, defer to the Defense Contract Management Agency is potentially damaging to taxpayers. (Project on Government Oversight)
  • Opinion: The Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) should hold its ground against industry lobbying and develop a robust whistleblower program while rulemaking under the Dodd-Frank financial reform law. (Project on Government Oversight)
  • Opinion: Rep. Elijah Cummings thinks that Rep. Darrell Issa’s efforts to engage business leaders in targeting job killing regulations is on the right track, but falls short of being truly effective. (Politico)
  • Opinion: Yale’s Heather Gerken posits that lobbying could be the new campaign finance. (Election Law Blog)

Relevant committee hearings scheduled for 2/10: House:

  • Oversight and Government Reform: Full Committee. On regulatory impediments to job creation. 2167 Rayburn House Office Building. 9:30am – open.
  • Judiciary: Courts, Commercial, and Administrative Law Subcommittee. On the Regulatory Flexibility Improvements Act of 2011. 2141 Rayburn House Office Building. 1:30pm – open.

Senate:

  • None.

Relevant bills introduced:

  • H.R. 590. A bill to prohibit States from carrying out more than one Congressional redistricting after a decennial census and apportionment, to require States to conduct such redistricting through independent commissions, and for other purposes; to the Committee on the Judiciary.
  • H.R. 597. A bill to restore the Federal electoral rights of the residents of the District of Columbia, and for other purposes; to the Committee on House Administration, and in addition to the Committees on Oversight and Government Reform, and the Judiciary, for a period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker, in each case for consideration of such provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the committee concerned.

Transparency events scheduled for 2/10:

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The Day in Sunlight 2/10/2011

February 10th, 2011 by Katie Dixon · No Comments

Here is a look at what happened yesterday on the Sunlight network.

  • Paul Blumenthal began the day with several transparency headlines including fundraising during the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), Koch Industries donations to the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and more. (Sunlight Foundation Blog)
  • Paul Blumenthal reported that Sen. Chris Dodd is in negotiations to become the next head of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA). (Sunlight Foundation Blog)
  • Paul Blumenthal reposted a piece from Heather Gerken of the Election Law Blog on how election law is getting interested in lobbying reform. (Sunlight Foundation Blog)
  • Anu Narayanswamy detailed the responses to a request for industry feedback on which rules the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee should investigate, noting that the Environmental Protection Agency received the bulk of attention. (Sunlight Reporting Group)
  • Eric Mill announced the launch of the Real Time Congress API, including feeds of floor updates, videos, committee hearings, bills, and more. (Sunlight Labs Blog)
  • Take a look at the previous day’s transparency-related news items, congressional committee hearings, transparency-related bills introduced in Congress, and transparency related events. (The Open House Project)

No CommentsTags: openhouseproject

The Day in Transparency 2/9/11

February 9th, 2011 by Melanie Buck · No Comments

Here is Wednesday’s look at the week’s transparency-related news items, congressional committee hearings, transparency-related bills introduced in Congress, and transparency-related events.

News Roundup:

  • The White House has launched a new project called “Advise the Advisor” where one of the President’s closest advisors will post a video explaining what the White House is doing on a particular issue then ask for public feedback. (Tech President)
  • EADS North America is developing grassroots support by turning to Facebook and other forms of new media to help the company win a $35 billion Pentagon contract to build aerial tankers. (Roll Call $)
  • House Democrats are urging the chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Rep. Darrell Issa, to decrease the amount of information he is requesting from agencies regarding their Freedom of Information requests from the last five years. (Federal Times)
  • U.S. District Judge Shira A. Scheindlin ruled that the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency, among other federal agencies, had not met either their FOIA or their discovery obligations by releasing information in the form of unsearchable PDF files. (Investigative Reporting Workshop, American University School of Communication)
  • Sen. Grassley (R-IA) has discovered instances of fraud at the Department of Defense, the Federal Aviation Administration, and the Forest Service where Federal charge cards have been used for personal expenditures. He is advocating for federal requirements that agencies put safeguards on their charge cards and levy penalties for violations. (Center for Public Integrity)
  • A new investigative report by the Office of Inspector General (OIG) demonstrated that the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) missed an opportunity to uncover a Ponzi Scheme in 2005 by failing to conduct a thorough examination of investment adviser Westridge Capital Management. (Project on Government Oversight)
  • The Government Accountability Office said yesterday that “supervisory and analytical weaknesses” were responsible for errors in a recent report about for-profit colleges, not personal bias or conflicts of interest. (Washington Post)
  • Microsoft’s former chief security adviser to state and local governments, Dean Lacovelli, explains how IT benefits government executives as well as how executives can demonstrate that value. (Gov Tech)

Relevant committee hearings scheduled for 2/9:

House:

  • Oversight & Government Reform. TAR and Financial Services Subcommittee: on state and municipal debt. 9:30am. HVC-210 Capitol.

Senate:

  • None.

Relevant bills introduced:

House:

  • H.R. 527. A bill to amend chapter 6 of title 5, United States Code (commonly known as the Regulatory Flexibility Act), to ensure complete analysis of potential impacts on small entities of rules, and for other purposes; to the Committee on the Judiciary, and in addition to the Committee on Small Business, for a period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker, in each case for consideration of such provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the committee concerned.
  • H.R. 557. A bill to amend the Consumer Financial Protection Act of 2010 to move the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection into the Department of the Treasury; to the Committee on Financial Services.
  • H. Con. Res. 14. Concurrent resolution expressing the sense of the Congress that non-defense, non-security, non-veterans discretionary spending should be reduced by 20 percent; to the Committee on the Budget, and in addition to the Committees on Oversight and Government Reform, and House Administration, for a period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker, in each case for consideration of such provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the committee concerned.
  • H. Res. 72. A resolution directing certain standing committees to inventory and review existing, pending, and proposed regulations and orders from agencies of the Federal Government, particularly with respect to their effect on jobs and economic growth; to the Committee on Rules.

Senate:

  • S. 300. A bill to prevent abuse of Government charge cards; to the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs.

Transparency events scheduled for 2/9:

  • None.

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The Day in Sunlight 2/9/2011

February 9th, 2011 by Katie Dixon · No Comments

Here is a look at what happened yesterday on the Sunlight network.

  • Paul Blumenthal began the day with several transparency headlines including the Office of Congressional Ethics report on the fine line between fundraising and legislating, Apple’s new GOP lobbying team, and more. (Sunlight Foundation Blog)
  • Laurenellen McCann unveiled the survey for TransparencyCamp 2011. (Sunlight Foundation Blog)
  • Daniel Schuman announced the panelists for the Advisory Committee on Transparency’s panel entitled Reforming Congress: The good, the bad, and the ugly. (Sunlight Foundation Blog)
  • Josh Ruihley included updates on what’s going on in Sunlight Labs. (Sunlight Labs Blog)
  • Keenan Steiner reported on the fundraisers held around the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). (Party Time Blog)
  • Take a look at the previous day’s transparency-related news items, congressional committee hearings, transparency-related bills introduced in Congress, and transparency related events. (The Open House Project)

No CommentsTags: openhouseproject