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March 28, 2011 Open Letter: Congress Must Protect Transparency Programs in Budget Negotiations Dear Speaker

March 28, 2011

Open Letter: Congress Must Protect Transparency Programs in Budget Negotiations

Dear Speaker Boehner, Minority Leader Pelosi, Majority Leader Reid, and Minority Leader McConnell:

We, the undersigned, are writing to express our concerns over proposed budget reductions that would effectively eliminate important government transparency programs. The budget for Data.gov, USASpending.gov, the IT Dashboard, and other data transparency and government accountability programs funded through the Electronic Government Fund would be slashed from $34 million to $2 million if the Full-Year Continuing Appropriations Act passed by the House or considered by the Senate became law.

In recent years Congress and the Executive Branch have taken serious steps toward increasing government transparency. We applaud those efforts. Justice Brandeis said Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants; electric light the most efficient policeman, but these proposed cuts would put the American people back in the dark.

These e-government initiatives help the government operate more effectively and efficiently, thereby saving taxpayer money and aiding oversight. They increase economic opportunities for small business. They also increase citizen knowledge of and involvement in the democratic process. Fully realized transparency would allow us to track every expense and truly understand how money like that in the electronic government fund flows to federal programs. Government spending and performance data must be available online, in real time, and in machine-readable formats.

An open and accountable government is a prerequisite for democracy. Keeping these programs alive would cost a mere pittance when compared to the value of bringing the federal government into the sunlight. As you consider the budget for the remainder of this year, please sustain funding for these vital transparency programs.

Sincerely yours,

The Sunlight Foundation

cc:

Hal Rogers, Chairman, U.S. House Committee on Appropriations Norm Dicks, Ranking Member, U.S. House Committee on Appropriations Jo Ann Emerson, Chairman, U.S. House Committee on Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government José Serrano, Ranking Member, U.S. House Committee on Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government Daniel Inouye, Chairman, U.S. Senate Committee on Appropriations Thad Cochran, Vice Chairman, U.S. Senate Committee on Appropriations Dick Durbin, Chairman, U.S. Senate Committee on Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government Jerry Moran, Ranking Member, U.S. Senate Committee on Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government Jacob Lew, Director, Office of Management and Budget