Friday, 7 May 2010

2010 Public Online Information Act

The Helena (MT) Independent Record reports that Senator Jon Tester (D-Montana) has introduced a bill ( S. 3321) in the Senate called the 2010 Public Online Information Act. The bill would require the federal government to post all public documents and records in a free, searchable online database. The bill also would create an independent advisory committee to issue guidelines for making public information accessible online. The bill allows government offices to exempt some documents from the database if they explain why making them public could cause harm.
The bill expands the statutory definition of a government record to include "contracts entered into by persons working as agents of the federal government, including records in the possession of government contractors." A companion measure in the House, H.R. 4858 , does not require agencies to disclose contracts. Other documents that would be required to be put online: details about executive agency travel paid for by outside parties; details of lobbying activity; and financial disclosures by government officials.
Senator Tester's bill has the support of the Sunlight Foundation, an organization dedicated to making government transparent and accountable.

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