We have good news for fans of government accountability and cleaning up the swamp: Rep. Mike Quigley has re-introduced the Transparency in Government Act (TGA). The bill is essentially a menu of everything needed to bring greater transparency to the federal government.
Major provisions of the bill include:
- Strengthening FOIA by requiring agencies to publish all completed FOIA requests online in a searchable, sortable, downloadable format. It also ensures agencies use the FOIA Online website to log, track and publish the status of requests.
- Shedding light on Members’ of Congress finances by increasing disclosures of personal finances, office expenses, gift reports, and foreign travel, and making those disclosures available online.
- Opening up the Supreme Court by requiring audio and video of proceedings to be made available on the Supreme Court’s website.
- Improving oversight of lobbying efforts by establishing new definitions for lobbyists and stricter rules governing how and with whom they meet.
The re-introduced version of the bill has new measures that would:
- Strengthen Congressional contempt powers by creating an office outside of DOJ that would prosecute criminal contempt referrals from Congress
- Establish a permanent version of the Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress
- Promote U.S. Capitol Police accountability to the public by requiring the department to publish arrest information online
- Facilitate tracking lobbyist activity by generating unique identifiers for each registered lobbyist
- Save countless hours of work spent finding points of contact for specific issues by ordering a study on the feasibility of a House staff directory that lists staffers’ issue areas.
Rep. Quigley, who chairs the Congressional Transparency Caucus, has introduced the TGA every Congressional session since he was first elected. You can see the past iterations of the bill for the 115th Congress, 114th Congress, 113th Congress, 112th Congress, and the 111th Congress on Congress.gov.
While we would love to see TGA enacted into law, its purpose is to act as a repository of pre-vetted ideas that already have been reduced to legislative form and are available for introduction as favorable circumstances arise.
— Written by Amelia Strauss