About POGO


Watch Sean Moulton, POGO's Open Government Program Manager, discussing the merger of CEG and POGO on ABC7 News

Click here to see CEG/OMB Watch archive.

In 1983, OMB Watch was formed to lift the veil of secrecy shrouding the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB). Through its review of federal regulations, the budget, and more, OMB was having an enormous impact across the executive branch, but with little oversight or accountability.  OMB Watch sought to bring sunshine to this powerful and secretive agency by monitoring and reporting on the important governmental processes that OMB influenced.

As the years progressed, tracking these activities led to other concerns about the federal government’s institutional responsiveness to public needs. OMB Watch broadened its focus to cover cross-cutting issues that affected how government operated, including the federal regulatory process, government transparency and access to information, and federal budget and government performance.

Over the years OMB Watch became a lead group organizing opposition to attacks on public protections and government transparency.  They coordinated numerous coalitions with participation across the political spectrum including the Citizens for Sensible Safeguards (later renamed the Coalition for Sensible Safeguards) and OpenTheGovernment.org.  OMB Watch also sought to use technology as an advocacy tool, launching several websites to give the public critical access to government information. One such website, FedSpending.org, allowed users to search trillions of dollars in federal contracts, grants, and loans dating back to FY 2000 and served as the basis for the government’s USASpending.gov. The website RTKNET.org enabled visitors to search multiple environmental databases with information on toxic chemicals and hazardous materials in their own backyard.

In 2013, OMB Watch changed its name to the Center for Effective Government (CEG) to better represent its broader scope and its new goal to ensure that the federal government effectively addressed the needs and priorities of the American people. CEG’s work continued to focus primarily on issues of transparency, regulatory process, and fiscal policies.  But the group adopted a two-pronged approach in which it raised public awareness and appreciation of government operations, while it also protected core federal activities from undue influence by special interests.

In 2016, CEG’s board examined the changing non-profit environment and the organization’s long-term prospects.  The board concluded that after 33 years of operation, CEG’s mission would be best served and sustained by folding its work into a partner organization.  Given the Project On Government Oversight’s long-running work on similar issues and its commitment to creating more accountable and effective government institutions, POGO was chosen to carry forward CEG’s work.  

POGO is honored and excited to incorporate CEG’s issues into its own ongoing efforts.  The government accountability work will be expanded to include the rulemaking process as another area where money and influence have too much impact.  Additionally, POGO plans to reinforce its open government work to better reflect transparency issues that CEG long covered such as spending transparency and open data.