Draft White House memo would require federal agencies to reveal special funding requests from members of Congress.
by Reid Wilson, National Journal Nov. 7, 2011
In a move that could escalate hostilities with Congress, President Obama may be planning to use his executive authority to publicize special funding requests that lawmakers make for pet projects.
A memo that the White House has floated on Capitol Hill would require executive branch agencies to make public any letter from a member of Congress seeking special consideration for any project or organization vying for government funding. National Journal obtained a draft copy of the executive memo.
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Full Text: Draft Executive Memo
MEMORANDUM FOR THE HEADS OF EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENTS AND AGENCIES
SUBJECT: Promoting Merit-Based and Competitive Allocation of Federal Funds
My Administration has repeatedly called for the elimination of
earmarks. Earmarks threaten the integrity of the lawmaking process,
undermine public confidence in government, and waste taxpayer dollars.
I have therefore called on Congress not to send me legislation
containing earmarks. In addition, my Office of Management and Budget
(OMB) records legislative earmarks in a publicly available catalogue
of bills containing earmarks (http://earmarks.omb.gov/earmarks-public).
Earmarks written into law or otherwise referenced in legislative
materials are not the only threat to merit-based and competitive
criteria for the use of government funds, however. Too often, federal
agencies are pressured informally to show special favor to certain
parties or interests in the course of agency decision-making
concerning federal projects, programs, contracts, and grants.
According to some reports, such pressures have increased over the past
year. Like legislated earmarks, these pressures on agency
decision-making also undermine the neutral application of merit-based
and competitive criteria for the allocation of federal resources.
Accordingly, to implement Executive Order 13457, and to build upon
that Order by providing additional transparency and promoting greater
efficiency in the allocation of federal monies, I direct the
following, effective today and prospectively:
First, executive department and agencies shall make available to the
public, in searchable form on the Internet, all written communications
from any Member of Congress, including all Member and committee staff,
in any way referencing earmarks previously enacted into law or
referenced in congressional reports or other legislative materials.
Second, whether or not such communications reference earmarks enacted
into legislation or otherwise contained in legislative materials,
executive departments and agencies shall make available to the public
in searchable form on the Internet all written communications from any
Member of Congress, including all Member and committee staff,
requesting that agencies give special consideration to any specific
person, organization, or other entity or group of entities, or
consideration targeted to any State, locality, or congressional
district, in the course of agency decision-making with respect to any
federal project, program, contract, grant, or other expenditure.
Third, executive departments and agencies shall make the above
communications available within 30 days of receiving such
communications, as part of their existing Open Government Plans.
The independent agencies are strongly encouraged to comply with this memorandum.
This memorandum is not intended to, and does not, create any right or
benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by
any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or
entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.
Nothing in this memorandum shall be construed to impair or otherwise
affect the functions of the Director of the Office of Management and
Budget relating to budgetary, administrative, or legislative
The Director of OMB is authorized and directed to publish this
memorandum in the Federal Register.