Earmark Requests Detailed in Database

Posted April 6, 2009 at 3:44pm

In an effort to make it easier to find Members’ earmark requests, the nonpartisan Sunlight Foundation unveiled a database today listing every Representative and providing, when available, a link to their requests.For the first time, the House Appropriations Committee mandated this Congressional session that House Members post their earmark requests for the 2010 fiscal year on their individual Web sites. Nearly 300 Members did so by the 5 p.m. Saturday deadline, Sunlight investigator Bill Allison found. (Allison also noted that about 115 Members had not posted their requests — although many of those lawmakers have pledged not to submit earmark requests at all.)Allison also noted that the Members who did post requests posted them in an inconsistent fashion. Some Members put the information on their home pages, while others placed it in other sections of their Web sites.With its database, the Sunlight Foundation is trying to make public access to the data more direct, Allison said.Representatives are listed alphabetically. For Members who posted earmark requests, a link and note of where to find the requests are provided.For example, Rep. Earl Blumenauer’s (D-Ore.) requests are listed on his home page, while Rep. John Carter (R-Texas) lists his requests on the “issues and legislation— section on his Web site.“Sometimes it was really tricky to find them,— Allison said of the requests. He admits that there could be some Members who have made the requests and posted that information but have made it difficult to find on their Web site.And location wasn’t the only difficulty; formatting among different sites varied widely. Some Members posted the information in HTML format, while others created PDFs or downloadable Word documents. Some Members created charts and others listed the information in a press release.“The next time around, it would be much better if they came up with some form of uniform standard,— Allison said. “There’s no sort of rhyme or reason to how it’s done.—The Foundation’s database can be viewed here.