Contact: Anna Oman, 202-234-8494
View the letter
Washington, DC (December 15, 2005) – Today more than 50 organizations, including civil liberties, media, library, and environmental groups, sent a letter to President Bush urging the White House to post all spending documents related to Hurricane Katrina relief and reconstruction spending on the Internet.
“Congress has already put $62.3 billion into Hurricane Katrina relief, with billions more expected,” explains Rick Blum, director of OpenTheGovernment.org, who helped coordinate the letter. “With the federal government spending so much so quickly, opportunities for waste and fraud abound. To prevent this, Congress, reporters, and the public must be informed of how the dollars are spent.”
The group is calling on President Bush to post–to a single, searchable website–copies of every contract, requisition, task/delivery order, agreement or other authorization for spending on Hurricane Katrina relief and reconstruction as soon as contracts are signed, checks are approved or money is disbursed. The group also wants the president to direct agencies to put information for spending that has already occurred online as soon as possible.
According to the letter, posting the spending documents online helps both the government and taxpayers, by speeding up the process of tracking down abuses, informing public debate about the government’s Hurricane Katrina response, cutting information request costs, and helping restore public trust in government.
The letter points to existing law that requires the government to post online any document that can reasonably be expected to have broad public interest: “groups (from) across the political spectrum have raised concerns about Katrina-related contracting and millions of Americans have been directly affected by Hurricane Katrina. These documents meet this standard.”
While summaries of Katrina-related spending have been made available electronically by some agencies, detailed contract information is still unavailable.