Video: Transparency in the 117th Congress – What’s On Congress’s Agenda

The Advisory Committee on Transparency hosted its first event of the 117th Congress on Tuesday, May 4th, at 3 p.m. via Zoom. The event previewed what is on the 117th Congress’s transparency agenda. Panelists included Demand Progress’s Daniel Schuman, The Project On Government Oversight’s Liz Hempowicz, Open the Government’s Freddy Martinez, and moderator Courtney Buble from GovExec. Opening remarks were made by Demand Progress’s Ginger McCall.

Watch the event below.

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Save the Date: Transparency in the 117th Congress – What’s On Congress’s Agenda

The Advisory Committee on Transparency will host a webinar on Tuesday, May 4th, at 3 p.m. via Zoom.

The webinar will provide an overview of transparency in the federal government, with a focus on where Congress likely will concentrate its attention and the status of past legislative efforts.

Panelists include:

  • Daniel Schuman, policy director for Demand Progress
  • Liz Hempowicz, director of public policy for the Project on Government Oversight
  • Freddy Martinez, policy analyst for Open the Government
  • Courtney Buble, moderator, a staff correspondent who covers federal management for Government Executive.

RSVP to the free webinar here.

About The Advisory Committee on Transparency: Democracy is dependent upon a transparent, accountable, and effective government. The Advisory Committee is a decade-old effort to educate policymakers on transparency-related issues, problems, and solutions and shares ideas with members of the Congressional Transparency Caucus. It hosts events to discuss important and wide-ranging transparency policy issues with experts from a variety of backgrounds and develops educational publications and provides timely information to the public and members of Congress.

Come to the U.S. Capitol for an Open Government “State of the Union” honoring Sunshine Week 2020

You are cordially invited to attend an Open Government State of the Union in honor of Sunshine Week, the nation-wide celebration of access to public information that takes place every year around President James Madison’s birthday, who famously wrote that “a people who mean to be their own Governors, must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives.”

Please join us in a virtual conference on March 12 at 2 PM for a spirited discussion between experts and advocates about a host of topics, from the Freedom of Information Act to open government data, government modernization, transparency at the Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel, whistleblowers, press freedom, and democracy in the United States of America in 2020.

Please RSVP at info@openthegovernment.org

Moderator: Lisa Rosenberg, Executive Director, Open the Government (@lisarosenbrg)

Panelists:

 

 

Transparency Caucus features tools to track legislative information

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0mIzjT8e0yE]

On June 7, the Transparency Caucus of the U.S. House of Representatives hosted a remarkable forum inside of the United States Capitol that featured ten presentations from government officials and members of civil society on innovative tools and technologies. Following is a run down of who spoke and the services, tools and projects they shared:

I attended the forum, shared insights from the presentations on Twitter, and moderated a short Q&A at the end. The event was supported by the Advisory Committee on Transparency.

At a high level, this Transparency Caucus forum was a reminder of the immense progress over the past decade in using the Internet and associated technologies to improve public access to the raw materials of democracy, engage and inform people about new opportunities to learn about their government and participate in it – and the work that still remains to modernize Congress in the 21st century.

An earlier version of this post appeared at e-pluribusunum.org.

Save the Date: Congressional Transparency Tools to Track Legislative Information

The Congressional Transparency Caucus announced it will hold a briefing on Friday, June 7th, at 2 p.m., in the Capitol Building, room HC-8 to discuss tools that make legislation information more readily available.

This briefing will include discussion, tech demos, and the opportunity to ask questions from panelists that have created these tools.

These websites make it easier for Congressional staff to track bills, find Inspector General reports, monitor floor activity, compare voting records, watch the courts, understand policy issues, and more.

RSVP here.

The list of confirmed panelists are below. More are expected.

  • Michael Horowitz, Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General, Oversight.gov
  • Steve Dwyer, Office of House Majority Leader, Dome Watch
  • Daniel Schuman, Demand Progress, EveryCRSReport
  • Ben Hammer, GovTrack
  • Marci Harris, PopVox
  • Derek Willis, Pro Publica, Represent
  • Steve Schultze, Court Listener, RECAP
  • Andrew Weber, Library of Congress, Congress.gov
  • Sheila Krumholz, Center for Responsive Politics, Open Secrets
  • Veneice Smith, Clerk of the House, Clerk Website Clipping

We will share more information, including the location and additional panelists, when it becomes available.

Save the Date: Congressional Transparency Caucus Briefing on the Foreign Agents Registration Act

The Congressional Transparency Caucus will host a briefing on foreign lobbying on July 25th at 2pm in Rayburn 2456. RSVP here.

Rep. Mike Quigley will be giving opening remarks. Panelists will include:

  • Carrie Levine, Senior Political Reporter, Center for Public Integrity
  • Lydia Dennett, Investigator, Project on Government Oversight (POGO)
  • Daniel Schuman, policy director, Demand Progress Action
  • Tom Susman, Director of Government Affairs, the American Bar Association

Here is the announcement from Rep. Mike Quigley, caucus co-chair, in his “Dear Colleague” letter.


Transparency Caucus Briefing: Shining a Light on Foreign Lobbying

Dear Colleague,

Please join me at the next Transparency Caucus briefing titled “Shining a Light on Foreign Lobbying.”

Revelations of foreign meddling in the 2016 presidential election have renewed interest in the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA). The Act, which too many lobbyists take lightly due to historic underenforcement by the Justice Department, played a significant role in the recent indictment of Paul Manafort Jr, who served as Chairman on the Trump Presidential campaign while also working for a Ukrainian political party. Passed in 1938, it requires persons acting as agents of foreign principals in a political or quasi-political capacity to make periodic disclosure of their relationships and financial transactions with foreign principals. FARA, in its current state, however, is susceptible to dangerous loopholes and its lax enforcement undermines other legislation intended to increase transparency in federal lobbying practices, such as the Lobbying Disclosure Act.

Now more than ever, we must be able to identify foreign influence and hold foreign actors seeking to lobby the United States government as accountable as any other lobbyist. In June, the Justice Department released years of advisory opinions which have provided some clarity, but also highlighted the need for reform. In the interest of promulgating transparency and safeguarding our democracy, Congress must take on the task of reforming this vital legislation and ensuring its full enforcement.

Join us as the Transparency Caucus welcomes a panel of expert speakers to discuss the challenges we face in monitoring foreign influence in our country, and work to bring greater transparency to the federal government.

Opening Remarks by:

  • Congressman Mike Quigley

Panelists:

  • Daniel Schuman, Demand Progress
  • Tom Susman, American Bar Association (ABA)
  • Lydia Dennett, Project on Government Oversight (POGO)

Recap: Transparency Caucus Briefing on Strengthening Accountability in the Executive Branch

On November 1, 2017, the Congressional Transparency Caucus hosted a briefing on transparency and government ethics with former OGE director Walt Shaub (current Senior Director of Ethics at the Campaign Legal Center) and CREW policy counsel Jennifer Ahearn. Rep. Mike Quigley, caucus co-chair, facilitated the discussion.

The Transparency Caucus summarizes three legislative proposals for discussed by the panel. Those proposals were: 1) Congress should disclose ethics waivers so the public is informed of all exemptions from current government ethics policies; 2) Congress should require the General Services Administration to post their travel reports online (they are currently only available via FOIA request); 3) Congress should amend the Ethics in Government Act to increase oversight of government officials.

Transparency Caucus Briefing on Accountability in the 115th Congress

On September 27, 2016, co-chairs of the Congressional Transparency Caucus Reps. Mike Quigley and Darrell Issa hosted a briefing to discuss the progress the 115th Congress has made to address transparency issues, and outline the challenges still faced.

Video of the briefing is available here:

Panelists included:

-Shanna Devine of the Government Accountability Project

-Patrice McDermott, Executive Director of Open the Government.org

-Christian Hoehner of the Data Foundation and Data Coalition

Recap: Transparency Caucus Briefing on Data Act Implementation

On March 22, 2016, the Transparency Caucus hosted a briefing on the implementation of the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act (DATA Act) and the broader challenge of bringing greater transparency to the federal budget process. The caucus has an in-depth recap here.

The bipartisan briefing was hosted by the caucus co-chairs, Reps. Mike Quigley and Darrell Issa. Panelists included:

-Daniel Schuman, Policy Director of Demand Progress

– Hudson Hollister, Founder and Executive Director of the Data Transparency Coalition

-Dave Williams, Former Inspector General for the Postal Service 

-Sean Moulton, Open Government Program Manager for the Project on Government Oversight.

The 2014 DATA Act required Executive branch agencies to make their spending reports public (now on USAspending.gov). Several panelists noted that the law marked a huge win for executive branch transparency, but in 2016, the executive branch was already showing signs of obstructing the implementation process.

“The DATA Act promises to deliver a clearer, more comprehensive public view of how taxpayers’ money is being spent – but only if federal agencies follow the law. Our Coalition member companies are ready to use federal spending data to create new visualizations and power new analytics – but we can’t do it unless agencies adopt a consistent format across all spending, as the DATA Act requires. That’s why it’s so important for Congress to scrutinize what the agencies are doing, even after passing the law,” said Hudson Hollister, Founder and Executive Director of the Data Transparency Coalition.

Ed. note: as of March 2022, the White House still has yet to issue implementation guidance on the DATA Act. That should have been done back in the Obama administration.