Sunlight Foundation shows real levels of U.S. transparency

The Sunlight Foundation yesterday, 8th September, launched Clearspending.com, a site analysing how well U.S. government agencies are reporting their spending data on USASpending.gov.

Clearspending provides a reliable account of the inaccuracy of a site which claims to deliver government accountability to the public. The website and ‘scorecard’ reveal that over $1.3 trillion (over 50%) of U.S. spending in 2009 was in fact misreported. In the case of the U.S. Agency for International Development, over $8 billion (or 82.3%) of spending details were incomplete, and 40% came later than required by The Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act.

By showing where data is missing, incorrect, or over or underreported, Clearspending allows citizens to have a real sense of how transparent government is, whilst encouraging discussion of the problems of the current system.

Tom Lee, Director of Sunlight Labs, points out in his blog post that “instead of fixing those problems, the folks behind USASpending decided to build new websites on top of the same lousy data”. The full disclosure of timely data is critical for meaningful transparency both in U.S. domestic spending, and in aid. That is why Publish What You Fund is campaigning for timely, complete and proactive disclosure of data on international aid to deliver accountability, effective use and solid evaluation.

We urge you to visit the site.

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