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McCaskill Works to Open Up Federal Spending Process

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a light on open government

When U.S.
Senator Claire McCaskill arrived in
Washington, she looked at the federal government with the keen eye of an auditor
and the logical persistence of a prosecutor, which drove her focus on government
transparency and accountability and has shaped her work in the U.S. Senate ever
since. As the country celebrates Sunshine Week, a week dedicated to highlighting
the need for government transparency, McCaskill will emphasize her commitment to
making government more open and accessible through a series of factsheets on
specific issues related to accountability.

McCaskill Works
to Open Up Federal Spending Process

congressional approval of spending to tracking money that has already been
spent, McCaskill lets the public into the

Transparency to the Federal Spending Process

After only a few months in Congress,
McCaskill was outraged to learn that when the Senate Armed Services Committee
took up the bill to fund the Department of Defense the entire meeting was closed
to the public and the press, under the premise that members of Congress briefly
address classified matters.  Immediately, McCaskill moved to open any part of
the meeting that was not classified. Today McCaskill remains committed to
opening this committee meeting or any similar meeting that deals with decisions
about spending the public’s money. Whether it’s the first step in allocating
federal money or investigating money already spent, McCaskill continues to work
to make it easier for the press and the public to follow the money trail with
increased transparency and accountability.

Continues Work Toward Opening the Spending Process

Today, McCaskill announced her
intention to close a loophole that allows committees to use a rule related to
classified materials as a means to shut out the public and the press from
business meetings that consider the allocation of public funds. While McCaskill
fully agrees that classified or
other sensitive national security information should be addressed in a closed
session, she also believes that the classified materials exemption for closing
hearings should not be abused to prevent the public from having access to other,
non-sensitive parts of Senate meetings, something that has occurred in the past.

Quest for Open Government is Not New

Since arriving
in Washington,
McCaskill has consistently supported open government and transparency.  Over the
past two years she has:

  • Attempted to open up
    Senate Armed Services Committee mark-ups
    in 2007 and 2008 by
    objecting to closing the meetings and forcing a roll call vote in each case
  • Offered a resolution
    to improve transparency in the earmarking process
    requiring that all earmark requests be made public on the internet within 48
    hours, be included in the text of the bill, and be electronically searchable
  • Introduced and
    passed legislation
    that ensures that the work of IGs is accessible to the
    .  It requires that all IG websites
    be directly accessible from the home page of agency web sites and that all
    public IG reports must also be posted on agency websites within 3 working days
    of release (10/15/08).
  • Won
    on three occasions substantial improvements in the rights of whistleblowers of
    federal contractors
    thus empowering the brave people
    who shed light on fraud, waste and abuse in federal spending and making sure
    they are protected when they experience reprisals.
  • Led
    effort to make information about spending and projects funded in the Economic
    Recovery Act transparent and fully accessible to the
    .  McCaskill wrote Senate leadership
    during initial drafting stages of the recovery package, calling for a public
    project database, and then worked
    during Senate consideration
    to strengthen the legislation to
    require the collection and public posting of subcontracts (2/4/09).  Claire
    continues to push the Obama Administration to improve its Recovery Act project
    data collection efforts as a Member of the Homeland Security and Government
    Affairs Committee.

Reporters with
questions or in need of additional information should


Maria Speiser – Press

(desk) or 202-641-7342 (cell)