Archives for October 2015

Cause of Action Teams With Demand Progress To De-Politicize Federal Spending Decisions

Cause of Action Teams With Demand Progress To De-Politicize Federal Spending Decisions

Oversight organizations call on Office of Management and Budget to enforce pro-transparency Executive Order


Cause of Action Media Contact: Geoff Holtzman | | 703-405-3511

Demand Progress Media Contact: Daniel Schuman | | 202-577-6100

WASHINGTON – Today, nonprofit government accountability organizations Cause of Action and Demand Progress are petitioning the Office of Management and Budget to uphold an executive order that ensures American taxpayers are protected from government spending on wasteful earmarks.

Cause of Action and Demand Progress have penned a letter to OMB Director Shaun Donovan, asking that his agency issue a rule that will ensure Executive Order 13457, Protecting American Taxpayers From Government Spending on Wasteful Earmarks, is enforced. This executive order was intended to curb abusive earmarking and politically pressured discretionary spending, but a Cause of Action investigation has found that the order has not been widely enforced.


Cause of Action Executive Director Daniel Epstein issued the following statement:

“Cause of Action’s research shows that for years, federal agencies have been ignoring a binding executive order designed to protect taxpayer dollars from being misused. Our organizations believe that Washington has a duty to the public to ensure that federal discretionary spending decisions are transparent and merit-based.”

Demand Progress Policy Director Daniel Schuman issued the following statement:

“The administration must add a measure of transparency to earmark requests received by executive branch agencies. Federal spending decisions should be made on merit and in the sunshine. There already is an executive order on the books that addresses secret calls and letters by Congress and special pleaders. It is time to enforce it.”

Cause of Action’s examination of federal discretionary spending through Freedom Of Information Act records and federal databases has revealed that OMB’s current efforts to ensure that discretionary grant decision-making is transparent and merit-based are ineffective. As a result, political appointees and others can use federal tax dollars to reward political allies and appease powerful interests.

Cause of Action and Demand Progress feel that this demonstrates a need for OMB to act in order to restore transparency and accountability. Therefore, the organizations are petitioning OMB to issue, at a minimum, a memorandum that does the following:

1. Confirms that Executive Order 13457 binds discretionary agency spending;

2. Affirms that it is prohibited to allocate discretionary funds in response to congressional requests outside of a transparent, merit-based decision-making process, and that agencies are not obligated to fund such requests;

3. Recognizes that congressional and non-congressional entities and individuals can and do exert pressure on discretionary spending decision-making on federal projects, programs, contracts, and grants;

4. Requires executive departments and agencies to make available to the public records of all written and oral communications from any source that references: (1) earmarks previously enacted into law, (2) earmarks referenced in congressional reports or materials, or (3) discretionary funds not yet awarded, if the agency is “pressured informally to show special favor to certain parties or interests in the course of agency decision-making;”

5. Directs executive departments and agencies to make records of these communications publicly available through their respective websites within 30 days of receiving such communications.

Cause of Action is a non-profit, nonpartisan strategic oversight organization committed to ensuring that government decision-making is open, honest, and fair.

Demand Progress is a national grassroots group with more than two million affiliated activists who fight for basic rights and freedoms needed for a modern democracy.


Weekly Rundown 10-2-2015

In the News:

The HillAudit: Federal networks still vulnerable

The Government Accountability Office audited the cybersecurity of federal agencies and found 24 that had “persistent weaknesses.”  The GAO stated that “These deficiencies place critical information and information systems used to support the operations, assets, and personnel of federal agencies at risk, and can impair agencies’ efforts to fully implement effective information security programs.”  Even though many agencies have received recommendations on ways to increase their cybersecurity, most agencies have failed to adopt any new measures.

NY Times3 Hillary Clinton Emails Deemed ‘Secret’ in State Dept. Review of 6,300 Pages

In the latest batch of Hillary Clinton’s emails turned over by the State Department three emails were found that had been classified as “Secret.”  In addition to classified emails, there was also evidence that Russian hackers had attempted to gain access to the former Secretary of State’s private server.  The hackers had attempted a phishing attack using emails claiming New York speeding tickets and it is unclear if Mrs. Clinton opened the emails even though they remained on her sever.

Fox NewsFederal judge blocks new Obama administration rules on fracking

New oil and gas regulations have been stopped for now by a federal judge who claims the Environmental Protection Agency has not been granted authority to regulate hydraulic fracking.  Those seeking to prevent the new regulations have said that the rules copy state regulations already in place and would be at the cost of jobs.  Judge Scott Skavdahl’s ruling was based off of the 2005 Energy Policy Act, which stated that the EPA has no power to regulate fracking.

Daily BeastHillary Clinton on Emails: Whatever (So much for that apology. On Meet the Press, Clinton was again nonchalant about her use of a private server.)

“Whatever happened to them, happened to them.”  This was what former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said about the emails on her private server when speaking to Chuck Todd of Meet the Press.  Her husband, former President Bill Clinton said “I have never seen so much expended on so little,” when talking about the email scandal.  Mrs. Clinton claims she has “done all that I can to take responsibility, to be as transparent as possible.”

Government ExecObama Again Found Lacking in Open Government Efforts

President Obama’s pledge to be the most transparent administration we have ever seen has continued to fall short.  In the fight for a more open government a collection of advocacy groups have requested that this administration “adopt substantive, measurable and transformative commitments, pursue a more collaborative relationship with civil society, actively support transparency-related legislation and policies, push the intelligence community to significantly reduce both secret law and overclassification, and ensure agencies work both to fulfill and exceed commitments.”

Wall Street JournalEPA Sets Stricter Standard for Ozone (New limit on pollutant linked to smog draws criticism from industry groups, environmentalists)

The national limit for smog has greatly been reduced due to new Environmental Protection Agency rules.  These new regulations are difficult to meet for manufacturers, large and small alike, but some are angry that the limit wasn’t reduced further.  Penalties, such as loss of federal funding, could be on the table for states that fail to reduce their smog emissions to the new limit.