The Examiner has some good information about a very useful resource.
In a city that lives on rhetorical excess, it’s often easy to dismiss grandiose claims by senior federal officials. Not so with this statement last week by U.S. Office of Management and Budget Director Rob Portman: “This database houses more information on earmarks in one place than has ever been publicly available through the federal government.” He was referring to the updated version of the Earmarks Database posted April 4 in the OMB section of the White House Web site.
The OMB Earmarks Database offers details on 13,496 earmarks totaling more than $19 billion that were contained in fiscal year 2005 appropriations. OMB staffers have been working for months with officials elsewhere in the executive branch to dig out and verify details of earmarks that “circumvent the merit-based or competitive allocation process.” OMB estimates that the number of such earmarks has tripled in the past decade. Virtually all of that increase occurred under Republican majorities in Congress.
A vital precedent has been established by the mere fact the White House has made available such a wealth of data about earmarks in a manner that enables millions of taxpayers to examine it and reach their own conclusions about the propriety of the spending. Public opinion is likely to generate mounting pressure in future years to put more such information on the Internet, especially as citizens groups, nonprofit activists, journalists and bloggers dig into the data and find evidence of wrong-doing, conflicts of interest and corruption. They may also discover programs in which federal spending is inadequate or poorly targeted as a result of distortions created by earmarks. That is the good news about the database. Follow the link to read about its major flaw.