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Letter


Taxpayers Support the "Strengthening Transparency and Accountability in Federal Spending Act"

June 3, 2008

The Honorable Tom Coburn
172 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

The Honorable Barack Obama
713 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Senators Coburn and Obama:

On behalf of the 362,000 members of the National Taxpayers Union (NTU), I write in strong support of your legislation, the "Strengthening Transparency and Accountability in Federal Spending Act." This bill amends and builds upon the success of the Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act you both sponsored and ushered to passage in 2006. The current bill should be supported because it would strengthen disclosure requirements, improve data quality, and give taxpayers a clearer view of contract and grant performance.

This legislation would expand the solid foundation of the 2006 bill, which created www.USASpending.gov and was itself a huge sign of progress toward greater transparency in government spending. The Strengthening Transparency and Accountability in Federal Spending Act would require disclosure of important details about agencies, recipients, and the nature of the awards, as well as require a copy of each agreement itself to be posted online. Such information will give taxpayers and watchdogs alike greater ability to monitor hundreds of billions in government spending.

The Act also makes critically needed improvements to data quality. The number of oversights and outright errors in current data is staggering. This bill would help to rectify the problem by establishing a user-directed error reporting system that would harness the latest technology and methods. This system will allow agencies, award recipients, and citizens to report errors and have them resolved in a timely manner.

Unfortunately, a great deal of government spending goes without oversight once the money is out the Treasury's door. Your legislation would fill this gaping hole in the budget process by requiring information about grant and contract performance, including suspension, debarment, and civil, criminal, or administrative actions initiated against a recipient. This will help prevent federal funds from being disbursed to entities that have proven themselves to be poor stewards of taxpayer dollars.

NTU was proud to support the 2006 bill, spearheading several coalition letters with dozens of signatories from all across the political spectrum. That effort was successful because transparency is not an issue of right or left, it's an issue of right or wrong. We commend you for taking the next legislative step and look forward to working with you in making certain it becomes law.

Sincerely,

Andrew Moylan
Government Affairs Manager