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Bill to provide access to government contract info is victim of “secret hold”

Legislation that would increase the public’s access to government contract information has been blocked by a secret hold placed on it by an unidentified senator.

S. 2590, the Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act, was introduced by Sens. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., and Barack Obama, D-Ill. It would create a searchable database of government contracts, grants, insurance, loans and financial assistance, worth $2.5 trillion last year. The website would be managed by the Office of Management and Budget, which would list all organizations receiving Federal funds from 2007 onward, providing breakdowns based on the agency allocating the funds, the dollar amount given and the purpose of the grant or contract. The information on the website would need to be updated within 30 days after the award.

The measure had been passed unanimously in a voice vote last month by the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. It was on the fast track for floor action before Congress recessed Aug. 4 when someone put a hold on the measure. Under Senate rules, unless the senator who placed the hold decides to lift it, the bill will not be brought up for a vote.

Information on the bill and the secret hold can be found at the Free Congress Foundation website and in an August 23, 2006 article from the Cox News Service.

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