A letter from a transpartisan coalition of advocates for greater transparency in government are appealing to congressional leaders not to drastically reduce the budget for a federal program they say is critical to improving government accountability.
The letter was initiated by the Sunlight Foundation and is addressed to House Speaker John Boehner and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.
Here's the main text of the letter:
"We, the undersigned, are writing to express our concerns over proposed budget reductions thatwould effectively eliminate important government transparency programs. The budget for Data.gov,USASpending.gov, the IT Dashboard, and other data transparency and government accountabilityprograms funded through the Electronic Government Fund would be slashed from $34 million to $2million if the Full-Year Continuing Appropriations Act passed by the House or considered by the Senatebecame law.
"In recent years, Congress and the Executive Branch have taken serious steps toward increasinggovernment 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 smallbusiness. They also increase citizen knowledge of and involvement in the democratic process. Fullyrealized 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."