[Congressional Record: December 13, 2007 (Senate)]
[Page S15456-S15457]

                       LAUNCH OF USASPENDING.GOV

  Mr. OBAMA. Mr. President, I am very pleased to celebrate today's 
launch of USAspending.gov. This is an important day, an important 
milestone on the path to greater openness and transparency in the 
Federal Government. This site helps us to achieve a very simple and 
powerful vision: a vision that, in a democracy, the people ought to 
know what their Government is doing: how the Government is raising and 
spending money, how it is making and enforcing law, how it is 
supporting projects, how decisions are being made, and how results are 
being evaluated.
  It is not a Democratic vision or a Republican vision. It is a 
commonsense vision of Government transparency and accessibility. It is 
a vision that rejects the idea that Government actions and decisions 
should be kept secret or classified. It is a vision that believes that 
information is at the heart of democracy and that we all must resist 
the dangerous trend of withholding or classifying or burying 
information that the American people have a right to know and need to 
know if they are to hold their leaders accountable.
  I have been very troubled by the extent to which America has become a 
nation of government secrets. More and more information is kept secret 
or made intolerably complicated and inaccessible. More and more 
decisions are made behind closed doors with access limited to insiders 
and lobbyists.
  USAspending.gov along with watchdog groups will give us all tools to 
help buck that trend. It will help by opening Government processes up 
to public view. It will provide a window into the Federal budget so all 
Americans can see how their tax dollars are being spent--how their 
Nation's resources are being used and obligated, where money is going 
as well as where it is not going. We will be able to see which grantees 
and contractors are receiving

[[Page S15457]]

money and the congressional district where the contract's services are 
performed. We will see which agencies are purchasing what, from whom, 
and where. Technology makes it possible for every American to know what 
is happening and to hold elected officials accountable.
  If Government spending can't withstand public scrutiny, then the 
money shouldn't be spent. If a Government agency isn't willing to be 
held accountable for the grants or contracts it awards, then that 
agency shouldn't have control over Federal resources. Whether you 
believe the Government ought to spend more money or spend less, you 
should certainly be able to agree that the Government ought to spend 
every penny efficiently and transparently. Democrats and Republicans 
can all agree that wasteful spending is unacceptable, whether it is by 
FEMA, HUD, DOD, or any other Federal agency.
  Transparency by itself is not enough, but transparency is the first 
step to holding Government accountable for its actions. Transparency is 
a prerequisite to oversight and financial control. We can't reduce 
waste, fraud, and abuse without knowing how, where, and why Federal 
money is flowing out the door.
  USAspending.gov is a very good beginning. The Web site does not yet 
deliver everything that it is required to under the law, but its 
limitations and shortcomings are transparent, and it will get better 
and more complete week after week. I am also confident that people will 
use the site and will provide feedback directly on the site's community 
``Wiki'' function for collecting and sharing public comments. This will 
raise the expectations of all Americans for greater transparency, 
access, and accountability. Now it will be up to us elected officials 
to meet those expectations.
  It is important to point out that this site would not have been 
possible without the grassroots efforts of watchdog groups across the 
political spectrum who lobbied for passage of the Federal Funding 
Accountability and Transparency Act, which Senator Coburn and I like to 
call the Transparency Act. The story behind the Transparency Act 
embodies the best of our democratic traditions--a bipartisan effort 
fueled by ordinary people who refused to accept that the Government 
couldn't make public information freely and simply available. 
Throughout this process, it has been an honor to work with Senator 
Coburn and to witness the dedicated work of the staff at OMB.