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NTU Supports Worldwide Government Spending Transparency
December 17, 2007
Dear Mr. Osborne:
On behalf of the National Taxpayers Union (NTU), I write to commend your efforts to bring greater transparency to the United Kingdom's government spending. As you are aware, a similar drive for increasing the public's access to expenditure information has been sweeping the United States, with the federal government and 10 of our 50 states now requiring such data to be available online.
Last year, President George W. Bush signed the Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act into law. This bipartisan legislation has directed the U.S. Office of Management and Budget to create a single searchable online database that can be easily used by the public to research federal grant and contract expenditures. In 2008, American taxpayers will be able to visit www.federalspending.gov to track where their tax dollars are spent.
If you'd like to review a spending Web site that is already up and running, I'd recommend you visit the Missouri Government Accountability Portal at www.mapyourtaxes.mo.gov. Missouri Governor Matt Blunt signed an executive order creating this Web site, and it provides information on a wide range of government expenditures large and small. The Web site was created using existing resources and has proved to be quite successful, with over one million searches completed by visitors in the first three months of its existence.
As we hope is the case in the U.K., we found that support for spending openness transcended party lines -- and for good reason. Advocates from across the opinion spectrum share the common notion that transparency of and public access to government information is vital to the health of our political system. In a practical sense, we believe spending transparency will help to ensure the efficient allocation of public resources and root out waste. It will also help to engender an informed conversation over public policy and priorities.
We believe that taxpayers deserve to know how all of their tax money is allocated. For this reason, we hope that you'll advocate for a spending Web site that includes all expenditures regardless of size, and not just those over ₤25,000.
We wholeheartedly support your efforts to bring valuable information to the public through an online spending database. If you'd like more information on U.S. experiences with this issue, please visit the "Show Me the Spending Coalition" at www.showmethespending.org. Please do not hesitate to call upon us if we can be of any assistance in this effort.