In 2008, after eight years of apparent cronyism and secrecy from the Bush administration, part of the allure of then-candidate Obama’s “Hope and Change” message was that his would be an administration of transparency. In fact, one of his two Senate bills to become law was the Federal Funding and Transparency Act of 2006 which created a website that allowed taxpayers to track who received federal funds.
The Digital Accountability and Transparency Act of 2013 takes the transparency a step further, creating a pilot program to “research best practices” with regard to federal financial reporting. The ultimate goal is to make every federal expenditure a matter of public record, open to the scrutiny of experts. According to TechCrunch.com, The DATA Act might have caught the $823,000 Las Vegas party thrown by the General Services Administration in 2010 even sooner.
It sounds like a bill perfectly in line with President Obama’s earlier passion for government transparency, even though it was sponsored by Republican Rep. from California and harsh Obama critic Darrell Issa. Federal News Radio obtained a copy of the bill that was marked up by White House officials for the Office of Management and Budget that shows the Obama Administration may be trying to cripple the bill. According to Hudson Hollister, executive director of the Data Transparency Coalition, they are trying to undermine both “data standardization and online accessibility in one place.”
Greogry Feinstein of TechCrunch.com knows people in the Obama administration but has “gotten nothing but a cold shoulder and boilerplate responses.” He writes, “Someone within the ranks of the White House, most likely at a senior level, is torpedoing a bill and no one seems to know why.” In a stunning bit of synergy, it is a lack of transparency that obfuscates the motivation from the White House to abandon one if its supposed core principles.