Business

Congress accomplishes something — makes government more transparent

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If you were playing a drinking game where you did a shot every time Congress passed a bill, you’d be more sober than Brigham Young frat party.

But yesterday, American democracy witnessed a miracle: the House of Representatives passed an awesome law to make federal spending more transparent.

The DATA Act radically improves the federal purse by making it easily searchable in a machine-readable format. The bill is now on its way to the President for signing.

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), who cosponsored the bill in the House, used Twitter to share some of the benefits this bill will bring.

Why I am so excited that the federal government has finally been empowered with cutting-edge spreadsheet technology? Because the government is massively wasteful.

Up until now, it was virtually impossible for independent watchdog groups to monitor spending for outlandish purchases. For instance, in 2012, the agency that helps overseeing federal spending, the General Services Administration, was caught partying in pricey Las Vegas suites at a conference that cost taxpayers $823,000.

The DATA Act would “show that the GSA seems to be an outlier on its conference budget,” Senator Warner told me.
Warner predicts that watchdog groups will now more easily be able to red-flag outrageous spending.

From a pure data perspective, we could learn all sorts of interesting things about the way our government spends billions of dollars. We could find redundancies, obsolete programs, and plain old corruption.

Broadly speaking, it’s a chance to prove the power of transparency alone in solving big government problems.

Congress gave a big high-five to democracy transparency yesterday. And, today, I’m giving them a big high-five back.


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