Here is Friday’s look at transparency-related news items, congressional committee hearings, transparency-related bills introduced in Congress, and transparency-related events
- The American Bar Association’s (ABA’s) Task Force on Federal Lobbying Laws recently published a report entitled “Lobbying Law in the Spotlight: Challenges and Proposed Improvements” focusing on three general “weak spots” in the Lobbying Disclosure Act of 1995: a lack of registration and reporting, separation of lobbying from the “political money machine” to prevent any bundling of contributions and pay-to-play conflicts, and insufficient enforcement. (The Project on Government Oversight)
- In Virginia, fifteen teams of college students from 12 universities are using open-source district mapping software to build maps from the 2010 census data, and a panel of redistricting experts will judge the results in a statewide competition. The contest aims to pressure Virginia’s legislature into drawing sensible districts, as opposed to ones that reflect individual legislators’ desires for self-preservation. (Tech President)
- Justice Clarence Thomas’s wife is now the head of Liberty Consulting, which claims to use her “experience and connections” to help clients with their “governmental affairs efforts” and political donation strategies. (Politico)
- A staffer for Senate Appropriations Labor subcommittee Chairman Tom Harkin (D-IA) called a meeting of some 400 lobbyists and activists to discuss budget cuts. (The Hill)
- Former Missouri state auditor, Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO), said that contracting officers should stick with auditors’ conclusions on contract pricing or they risk losing objectivity because they build connections with the contractors they oversee. (Federal Computer Week)
- Speaker John Boehner supports giving broadcast media outlets new access to the House chamber and other spots in the Capitol so that the public can get a better feel for its legislature at work. (Politico)
- The U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Board has the beginnings of a website, ConsumerFinance.gov. (Tech President)
Relevant committee hearings scheduled for 2/4:
- S. 267. A bill to amend the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 to require a lifetime income disclosure; to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions.
- S. 282. A bill to rescind unused earmarks; to the Committee on Appropriations.
Transparency events scheduled for 2/4:
- Here Be Dragons: Governing a Technologically Uncertain Future. Future Tense. Thurs. 2/3 8:30am – Fri. 2/4 1:30pm. Google, DC. 1101 New York Avenue, NW. Washington, DC 20005.