Tester introducing bill to require more transparency from Administration
Measure would boost openness, create online clearinghouse for government information
(U.S. SENATE) – Senator Jon Tester, who made transparency and accountability hallmarks of his first Senate term, is continuing his fight to make the government more open as he begins his second term in office.
Tester is introducing the groundbreaking Public Online Information Act that requires the Executive Branch of the U.S. government – where the vast majority of public documents originate – to post all public documents and records in a free, searchable online clearinghouse.
Tester’s bill comes as the federal government celebrates Sunshine Week – a national initiative to highlight government openness. The measure also comes on the heels of his introduction of a bipartisan bill to require all Senate candidates to file their campaign finance reports online.
“Montanans expect the highest levels of transparency from elected officials, and that’s what I’m determined to give them,” said Tester, the first member of the Senate to post his daily schedule online. “From day one, we’ve blazed a new trail of openness and accountability. Now it’s time to raise the bar and set new standards for public access, and make sure transparency is keeping up with online technology.”
Tester’s bill, which covers all documents generated, updated, or released after the bill’s enactment, would also establish an independent, bipartisan watchdog advisory committee to issue guidelines for making public information accessible online.
Tester’s legislation was hailed by several government watchdog groups, including The Sunlight Foundation.
“The POIA would require online accessibility for all information released by the federal government so that everyone can see what their government is doing. It’s a bill made for the 21st century. Congress should consider and pass it,” said Ellen Miller, co-founder and executive director of the Sunlight Foundation.
Tester’s other accomplishments to increase government transparency include passing sweeping ethics reform with his first Senate vote, going beyond Senate rules to ban gifts from lobbyists, amending the STOCK Act to require financial disclosures filed by Members of Congress be made available online, and introducing legislation to improve response times for requests under the Freedom of Information Act.