(Alexandria, VA) -- Taxpayers can finally breathe a sigh of relief now that the President has signed the Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act into law -- that's the good news from the grassroots action team at the 350,000-member National Taxpayers Union (NTU), which spearheaded a broad coalition supporting the bill to give the public access to federal grant and contract funding data.
"With his signature today, President Bush gave the last pull needed to lift the curtain surrounding Washington's shadowy grant and contract distribution process," said NTU Government Affairs Manager Andrew Moylan. "Federal grant and contract funding will now be open to the public to review, praise, or scorn."
NTU and its allies won a resounding victory when both the House and Senate passed a slightly amended version of S. 2590, sponsored by Senators Tom Coburn (R-OK) and Barack Obama (D-IL). The bill would direct the Office of Management and Budget to create a searchable online database that the general public could use to track the flow of hundreds of billions of dollars in federal grant and contract disbursements.
Prior to consideration of the proposal, Moylan organized an open letter from more than 40 citizen groups, on both the right and the left, supporting the legislation. Then an unknown Senator used a procedural "hold" to prevent the legislation from being considered. Two weeks of intense questioning of Senatorial staff and information-sharing on Internet blogs revealed the source of the hold and cleared the way for passage. After careful negotiation, the holds were released and the bill was sent to the President's desk.
Moylan noted that the final bill varied in only one small aspect from the original version. The legislation that the President signed into law creates a central website with two separate database search fields -- one for grants and the other for contracts -- instead of a single portal. This minor difference was agreed upon by Senators Coburn and Obama as well as their House counterparts, Representatives Tom Davis (R-VA) and Roy Blunt (R-MO).
"We applaud Congress and the President for working together on this common-sense legislation," Moylan concluded. "Increasing transparency is vital to restoring the public's faith in government. This bill opens the door to the watchful oversight that 300 million pairs of eyes can provide."
NTU is a non-partisan citizen group founded in 1969 to work for lower taxes and smaller government. For more information, visit www.ntu.org.