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Policy Letter

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

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.

Sincerely,

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

Greenpeace

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

OpenTheGovernment.org

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

Sciencecorps

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

DownsizeDC.org

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

VelvetRevolution.us

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)