Dear Republican Study Committee,
On behalf of Independent Women's Voice, I thank you for your leadership in advancing the Federal Agency Transparency Act, H.R. 1061, which would hold federal agencies accountable by requiring the online publication of their receipts and expenditures every two weeks.
With the midterm elections of 2010, the American people showed their frustration with Washington's big-government spending spree. The dollars that federal agencies spend are dollars subtracted from the paychecks of hard-working men and women, and they deserve a government that spends frugally and responsibly, respecting the value of each dollar.
In the private sector, firms face consequences such as lost profit and loss of market share for wasteful spending. Because federal agencies do not compete in a marketplace, they often spend money with no cost-benefit analysis and suffer no consequences from waste. Under this bill, Americans will be able to scrutinize the goals and performance of every federal program, and see which ones work – and which ones don't.
Our hope is that efforts like the Federal Agency Transparency Act will encourage bureaucracies to be better stewards of their resources as well as make Americans more aware of how much money their government spends—and wastes—every day. Americans are already generally aware of the problem with Washington's overspending. This past November, Americans made their voice heard, sending the message that they want Congress to cut spending, reduce the size and scope of government, and increase transparency and accountability. This piece of legislation – the Federal Agency Transparency Act – is an opportunity for Congress to serve the interests of the American people. In fact, it is more than an opportunity, it is a duty. Leaders of federal agencies are often unelected bureaucrats. Our Congressmen and women are our elected voice at the federal level. Now is the time for Members to stand up for taxpayers.
Many politicians, including President Obama, have gone to Washington promising to increase transparency and allow individual Americans to know more and participate more in the governing process. Unfortunately, this promise has been largely broken. The government's current practices do not facilitate transparency and have not kept pace with private sector technologies. Too often, federal agencies and Congress have failed to publish information online. At other times, information has been published in formats that are not easily searchable, sortable, and downloadable. This leaves American citizens – even those who try to seek out this information – in the dark.
Because the Federal Agency Transparency Act would require that agencies publish reports on receipts and expenses biweekly, in an accessible format, citizens would be able to perform searches of millions of forms and filings in a similar cohesive manner. Normally, we would oppose any increase in paperwork or bureaucracy, but in this instance the good – transparency and accountability to the public – outweighs the bad.
We live in the Information Age, where information is power. Congress has the chance now to empower individual Americans with information about how their government uses their tax dollars. We encourage all Members of Congress to vote YES on the Federal Agency Transparency Act to give Americans the tools they need to hold government accountable, and we thank you for your work on this critical issue.
Heather R. Higgins
President and CEO
Independent Women’s Voice