There is an interesting story in today's Wall Street Journal about how members of Congress have been slow to put their official expenses online to aid the public in viewing the data. Coming on the heels of the British expense scandal and calls for more openess and transparency here in North Carolina by Governor Perdue, this story points out the nature of the problem.
Does Congress report the expenses for their staff and offices? The answers is yes, kind of. If you would like to review bound volumes from the Government Printing Office in the basement rooms on Capitol Hill or order them by mail, then yes, the reports are available to the public. Unfortunately, its like trying to drink water from a fire hose. The data is hard to decipher, there's a lot of it and you can't search it quickly. In this day of the database, you have to wonder if Congress is slow to modernize or just dragging their feet.
Citizens should be able to review simple details about their elected officials' conduct, easily and without considerable expense. Wouldn't you like to know, for example, what kind of car your congressman is leasing right now?
While Congress continues to hound CEO's about their perks and expenses, the public needs to keep an ever watchful eye on all of their lawmakers. Seachable databases are away to do just that.