Thank you so much for your interest in Show Us the Data and government transparency. We are currently writing a report about the results, and it will be released on March 20th during Sunshine Week. The event will be streamed online, and the report will be available at CDT and at OpenTheGovernment.org.
Most Requested Documents
The Congressional Research Service (CRS) uses taxpayer dollars to produce excellent reports on public policy issues ranging from foreign affairs to agriculture to health care. These reports are posted online, but on an internal system available only to Congressional offices through a password. Citizens can ask for these reports through their member of Congress, but they must know that the report exists. Currently, reports are sold by third parties or made available, when possible, by advocacy groups and others. Congress should make CRS release these reports to the public proactively and directly.
After bailout money was distributed, what individual companies did with the funds is still largely unknown. In some cases, the companies turned around and asked for even more money. According to the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, all of these funds and how they were spent must be made public. Where did they go?
The Patriot Act and associated civil liberties violations remain on the most wanted list from the 2004 Ten Most Wanted. The facts have not changed; the public has a right to know the details of when special investigative power is extended under the Patriot Act. This is especially important in investigations not directly related to terrorism. Currently the Judicial Branch is not providing statistical reports on Patriot Act usage, and without such reports, the public has no method of knowing when the courts might be allowing law enforcement to overstep investigative boundaries.
Voting records are public information and yet countless members of Congress continue to make efforts to prevent the creation of a government sponsored website. Numerous effective third-party websites exist, but in the interest of full disclosure and open government, an official Congressional sponsored website is vital.
The Office of Legal Counsel of the Department of Justice issues memoranda that assess whether activities of agencies of the federal government comply with the law and the U.S. Constitution. Its opinions can effectively authorize or prohibit conduct that is at the legal boundary. A number of its interpretations of the Bush Administration’s warrantless surveillance program, and of the applicability of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, have been kept secret from the public and even from Congress. While some facts surrounding such surveillance are necessarily classified, the government’s interpretation of the law should most definitely be public. The OLC’s opinions on intelligence surveillance should be made public with appropriate redactions to protect classified information.