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POGO signs Letter to Senate Majority Leader Frist to improve public access to federal spending information

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September 6, 2006

Dear Majority Leader Frist:

On behalf of the millions of taxpaying citizens represented by the groups signed below, we strongly urge you to bring S. 2590, the Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act, to the Senate floor for a vote. The bill, sponsored by Senators Tom Coburn (R-OK) and Barack Obama (D-IL), would direct the Office of Management and Budget to create a publicly-available website that would list every entity receiving federal financial assistance, such as grants or contracts, and the totals awarded for each fiscal year. Such a website would entail very little cost and would greatly increase transparency in the distribution of government funding. At last, those who most deserve to know about this process – the American people – would have a tool to examine and evaluate the federal government's funding decisions and priorities.

And yet, after being "hotlined" for unanimous passage, the bill was suddenly derailed when a secret hold was placed, indicating a Senator would object to it on the floor. After weeks of investigation, ordinary citizens used phone calls and several websites to narrow the holds down to Senators Ted Stevens (R-AK) and Robert Byrd (D-WV). Both Senators then admitted publicly to the holds. And yet, Stevens has renewed his hold and, along with an anonymous Democrat, stands in the way of this common-sense legislation.

This unprecedented flurry of "outside the Beltway" action from across the political spectrum suggests that support for this bill is strong among the general public. Advocates from all ideological points of view share the common notion that transparency of and public access to government information is vital to the health of our political system. Through letters such as this one, over 110 groups – of all ideological persuasions – have conveyed to the Senate their strong support for this measure.

Citizens should no longer be forced to navigate the confusing labyrinth of bureaucracy just to find out how their tax dollars are spent. Furthermore, internal conflicts and parliamentary maneuvers should not prevent the passage of a bill with such widespread support. Americans of all political stripes have spoken with a unified voice in favor of transparency and accountability. Now, they call upon you to bring S. 2590 to the Senate floor for a vote as soon as possible.

We thank you for your public commitments to bring this bill to the floor and want to work with you to ensure this important legislation receives a straightforward vote when the Senate reconvenes.


John Berthoud, President
National Taxpayers Union
Steven Aftergood, Director
Federation of American Scientists
Gary D. Bass, Executive Director
OMB Watch
Erich Pica
Friends of the Earth
Ashok Mehan
ADEZZA Federal Consulting
Tom Devine, Legal Director
Government Accountability Project
Emily Ferry, Executive Director
Alaska Transportation Priorities Project
Richard O. Rowland, President
Grassroot Institute of Hawaii
J. William Lauderback, Executive Vice President
The American Conservative Union
Rick Hind, Legislative Director
Scott Barstow, Director of Public Policy
American Counseling Association
Jon Coupal, President
Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association
Darryl Fagin, Legislative Director
Americans for Democratic Action
Kevin McLaughlin, President
Iowans for Discounted Taxes
Mary Alice Baish
Washington Affairs Representative
American Association of Law Libraries
Michael D. Ostrolenk, National Director
Liberty Coalition
Helena R. Berger, Chief Operating Officer
American Association of People with Disabilities
Patrick Sammon, Executive Vice President
Log Cabin Republicans
Dr. Jane Orient, Executive Director
American Association of Physicians and Surgeons

Maria Powell
Madison Environmental Justice Organization

F. Patricia Callahan
President and General Counsel
American Association of Small Property Owners
Richard Falknor, Executive Vice President
Maryland Taxpayers Association
Kevin Goldberg
American Society of Newspaper Editors
Forest Thigpen, President
Mississippi Center for Public Policy
Tim Phillips, President
Americans for Prosperity
Charles Davis, Executive Director
National Freedom of Information Coalition
Timothy Wise, President
Arlington County Taxpayers Association
Greg Speeter, Executive Director
National Priorities Project
Richard Karpel, Executive Director
Association of Alternative News Weeklies
Doug Kagan, Chairman
Nebraska Taxpayers for Freedom
Prue Adler, Associate Executive Director
Association of Research Libraries
Marge Clark, BVM, Lobbyist
NETWORK: National Catholic Social Justice Lobby
Bruce Martin
Buddhists for Fair Taxation
Joel Kupferman, Executive Director
New York Environmental Law & Justice Project

Peter Scheer, Executive Director
California First Amendment Coalition

Michael Mariotte, Executive Director
Nuclear Information and Resource Service
Terry Francke, General Counsel
Californians Aware
Patrice McDermott, Director
Charlie Cray, Director
Center for Corporate Policy
Bob Barr, Chairman
Patriots to Restore Checks and Balances
Ari Schwartz, Deputy Director
Center for Democracy and Technology
Marjorie A. Parker
Peace Coalition of Southern Illinois
J. Bradley Jansen, Director
Center for Financial Privacy and Human Rights
Monica Moore, Program Director
Pesticide Action Network North America Regional Center
Jeffrey Mazzella, President
Center for Individual Freedom
James A. Landrith, Jr., Founder
Pious Pagan Publishing
Robert E. Wordlaw, Executive Director
Chicago Jobs Council
Danielle Brian, Executive Director
Project On Government Oversight
Barbara Anderson, Executive Director
Citizens for Limited Taxation
Timothy J. Schmaltz, Coordinator/CEO
Protecting Arizona 's Family Coalition
Doug Bandow, Vice President of Policy
Citizen Outreach
Peter Suber, Open Access Project Director
Public Knowledge
Debbie Weinstein
Coalition on Human Needs
Lucy Dalglish
Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press
Chellie Pingree, President and CEO
Common Cause
William Westmiller, Chairman
Republican Liberty Caucus
Lawrence G. Sandoval, Staff Representative
Communication Workers of America
Paul Gessing, President
Rio Grande Foundation
Keith Runyon, President Pro Tem
Concerned United Taxpayers
Nick Sauvie, Executive Director
ROSE Community Development (OR)
Naomi E. Shaiken, President
Connecticut Call to Action
Kathy Burns
Howard Phillips, Chairman
The Conservative Caucus, Inc
Ellen Miller, Executive Director
Sunlight Foundation
Bob Shavelson
Cook Inletkeeper (AK)
Steve Ellis, Vice President of Programs
Taxpayers for Common Sense Action
Thomas Schatz, President
Council for Citizens Against Government Waste
David Strom, President
Taxpayers League of Minnesota
John Isaacs, President
Council for a Livable World
Rick Durham, President
Tennessee Tax Revolt, Inc
Edward J. Spar, Executive Director
Council of Professional Associations on Federal Statistics
John Chelen, President
Unison Institute
Jim Babka, President
Jeff Blum, Executive Director
US Action
Phyllis Schlafly, President and Founder
Eagle Forum
Dane von Breichenruchardt, Executive Director
U.S. Bill of Rights Foundation
John Richard
Essential Information
Ed Mierzwinski, Consumer Program Director
U.S. Public Interest Research Group
John McLaughry, President
Ethan Allen Institute
Craig Gillette
Bob Williams, President
Evergreen Freedom Foundation
Rose Bogaert, Chair
Wayne County Taxpayers Association, Inc
  Sylvia G. Ray, Executive Director
Women's Center of Fayetteville (AR)

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