On behalf of the thousands of National Taxpayers Union and Council for Citizens Against Government Waste members in Oklahoma, we ask you to support the Taxpayer Transparency Act of 2007 (SB 1) introduced by Senator Randy Brogdon and currently awaiting action in the House General Government and Transportation Committee. If signed into law, this legislation would create a public website that lists every entity receiving Oklahoma government grants and/or contracts and for what purposes the money is being disbursed.
Providing an easy-to-use tool like the searchable database proposed by SB 1 would better enable state residents to make sense of how their tax dollars are being parceled out. Timely access to this information is crucial for helping taxpayers make their own evaluations of Oklahoma City's spending priorities. This legislation deserves your support.
As you may know, last year President Bush signed S. 2590, the Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act, into law. Cosponsored by Senators Tom Coburn (R-OK) and Barack Obama (D-IL), the bipartisan legislation directs the U.S. Office of Management and Budget to create a searchable online database that the general public can use to track the flow of hundreds of billions of dollars in federal grant and contract expenditures.
Oklahoma residents deserve the same access. Creating a similar website on the state level would entail little cost, but it would greatly increase transparency in the distribution of precious tax dollars and help hold all elected officials accountable for state spending. While more than a dozen other states have limited versions of disclosure websites for grants and/or contracts, no state to date has created the kind of cohesive, comprehensive database envisioned in the federal legislation. By acting now, Oklahoma has the opportunity to lead the nation in making spending more easily accessible to the public.
As we found at the federal level, support for this legislation will likely transcend party lines. 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. We sincerely hope you decide to help pass SB 1 into law, which has already cleared the Senate unanimously. If we can be of any assistance in this effort, please do not hesitate to call upon us.
Government Affairs Manager
National Taxpayers Union
Vice President, Policy
Council for Citizens Against Government Waste