Tag: transparency

Sunlight Before Signing: Slow Improvement

It’s about time for an update on President Obama’s Sunlight Before Signing promise. On the campaign trail and on his campaign web site, the president said he would post all bills he received from Congress online for five days before he signed them.

He hasn’t fulfilled that promise every time. In fact, so far in 2010 he’s only done it about a quarter of the time, but that’s a big improvement over 2009!

Here’s a table that summarizes the Sunlight Before Signing status of the 163 bills President Obama has signed.

Number of Bills Bills Held 5 Days Bills Posted Five Days Emergency Bills
Overall 163 113 16 1
2009 123 90 6 0
2010 40 23 10 1

Of 163 bills, 113 have been held for five days as a matter of course, but only 16 have been posted on Whitehouse.gov for five days before signing. Five of the six bills posted for five days were in December, after Whitehouse.gov put a link on its home page pointing to pending legislation. The remaining ten so far in 2010 bring the president’s overall Sunlight Before Signing average to .098. Let’s round it up to 10%.

If you drop the administration’s first year, things start to look pretty good. (Hey, everything is relative…) The president is 10 for 40 in 2010—a straight .250 batting average. There have been 23 bills held five days, of course. The average could be above 50%!

Part of what is dragging the numbers down is the policy not to post bills that rename post offices. They’re not very important—that’s for sure—but the president’s promise wasn’t to post just the important bills online.

The public might benefit from knowing that Congress and the president spent time naming a post office in Saint Louis after Coach Jodie Bailey. (Coach Bailey had a record of 828 wins and 198 losses in his 42 seasons—quite a bit better than President Obama’s record on Sunlight Before Signing!)

Interestingly, the most recent new law—renaming a Department of Veterans Affairs facility—was posted online for five days. Perhaps the White House is going to start going after Sunlight Before Signing’s lowest-hanging fruit. Then things will really pick up!

After the jump, the  table showing the Sunlight Before Signing treatment for all 163 laws President Obama has signed.

Public Law Date Presented Date Signed Five Days? Posted (Linked)? Posted Five Days?
P.L. 111-2, The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009 1/28/2009 1/29/2009 No 1/29/2009* No
P.L. 111-3, The Children’s Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2009 2/4/2009 2/4/2009 No (2/1/2009)* No
P.L. 111-4, The DTV Delay Act 2/9/2009 2/11/2009 No 2/5/2009* Yes †
P.L. 111-5, The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 2/16/2009 2/17/2009 No (2/13/2009)* No
P.L. 111-6, Making further continuing appropriations for fiscal year 2009, and for other purposes 3/6/2009 3/6/2009 No No No
P.L. 111-7, A bill to designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 2105 East Cook Street in Springfield, Illinois, as the “Colonel John H. Wilson, Jr. Post Office Building” 2/26/09 3/9/2009 Yes No No
P.L. 111-8, The Omnibus Appropriations Act, 2009 3/11/2009 3/11/2009 No (3/5/2009)* No
P.L. 111-9, To extend certain immigration programs 3/18/2009 3/20/2009 No (3/19/2009)* No
P.L. 111-10, To provide for an additional temporary extension of programs under the Small Business Act and the Small Business Investment Act of 1958, and for other purposes 3/19/2009 3/20/2009 No (3/19/2009)* No
P.L. 111-11, The Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009 3/30/2009 3/30/2009 No (3/27/2009)* No
P.L. 111-12, The Federal Aviation Administration Extension Act of 2009 3/24/2009 3/30/2009 Yes (3/24/2009)* No ‡
P.L. 111-13, The Generations Invigorating Volunteerism and Education Act 4/20/2009 4/21/2009 No No No
P.L. 111-14, To designate the United States courthouse under construction at 327 South Church Street, Rockford, Illinois, as the “Stanley J. Roszkowski United States Courthouse” 4/14/2009 4/23/2009 Yes No No
P.L. 111-15, The Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program Act of 2009 4/14/2009 4/24/2009 Yes (3/27/2009)* No ‡
P.L. 111-16, The Statutory Time-Periods Technical Amendments Act of 2009 4/30/2009 5/7/2009 Yes (4/29/2009)* No ‡
P.L. 111-17, A joint resolution providing for the appointment of David M. Rubenstein as a citizen regent of the Board of Regents of the Smithsonian Institution 4/28/2009 5/7/2009 Yes (4/23/2009)* No ‡
P.L. 111-18, A bill to repeal section 10(f) of Public Law 93-531, commonly known as the “Bennett Freeze” 4/28/2009 5/8/2009 Yes (4/23/2009)* No ‡
P.L. 111-19, The Civil Rights History Project Act of 2009 4/30/2009 5/12/2009 Yes (4/29/2009)* No ‡
P.L. 111-20, The Protecting Incentives for the Adoption of Children with Special Needs Act of 2009 5/5/2009 5/15/2009 Yes (5/5/2009)* No ‡
P.L. 111-21, The FERA 5/19/2009 5/20/2009 No (5/15/2009)* No
P.L. 111-22, The Helping Families Save Their Homes Act of 2009 5/20/2009 5/22/2009 No (5/20/2009)* No
P.L. 111-23, The Weapon Systems Acquisition Reform Act of 2009 5/21/2009 5/22/2009 No 5/14/2009* No
P.L. 111-24, The Credit Cardholders’ Bill of Rights Act of 2009 5/20/2009 5/22/2009 No 5/15/2009* No
P.L. 111-25, The Ronald Reagan Centennial Commission Act 5/21/2009 6/2/2009 Yes (5/28/2009)* No ‡
P.L. 111-26, To designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 12877 Broad Street in Sparta, Georgia, as the “Yvonne Ingram-Ephraim Post Office Building” 6/9/2009 6/19/2009 Yes No No
P.L. 111-27, To designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 300 East 3rd Street in Jamestown, New York, as the “Stan Lundine Post Office Building” 6/9/2009 6/19/2009 Yes No No
P.L. 111-28, To designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 103 West Main Street in McLain, Mississippi, as the “Major Ed W. Freeman Post Office” 6/9/2009 6/19/2009 Yes No No
P.L. 111-29, To designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 3245 Latta Road in Rochester, New York, as the “Brian K. Schramm Post Office Building” 6/9/2009 6/19/2009 Yes No No
P.L. 111-30, The Antitrust Criminal Penalty Enhancement and Reform Act of 2004 Extension Act 6/19/2009 6/19/2009 No No No
P.L. 111-31, The Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act 6/16/2009 6/22/2009 Yes (6/12/2009)* No ‡
P.L. 111-32, The Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2009 6/19/2009 6/24/2009 Yes (5/20/2009)* No ‡
P.L. 111-33, The Native American Heritage Day Act of 2009 6/16/2009 6/26/2009 Yes (6/16/2009)* No ‡
P.L. 111-34, To designate the Federal building and United States courthouse located at 306 East Main Street in Elizabeth City, North Carolina, as the “J. Herbert W. Small Federal Building and United States Courthouse” 6/19/2009 6/30/2009 Yes No No
P.L. 111-35, To designate the Federal building located at 799 United Nations Plaza in New York, New York, as the “Ronald H. Brown United States Mission to the United Nations Building” 6/19/2009 6/30/2009 Yes No No
P.L. 111-36, The Webcaster Settlement Act of 2009 6/19/2009 6/30/2009 Yes (6/19/2009)* No ‡
P.L. 111-37, The Veterans’ Compensation Cost-of-Living Adjustment Act of 2009 6/25/2009 6/30/2009 Yes (6/25/2009)* No ‡
P.L. 111-38, A bill to provide additional personnel authorities for the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction 6/24/2009 6/30/2009 Yes (6/19/2009)* No ‡
P.L. 111-39, To make technical corrections to the Higher Education Act of 1965, and for other purposes 6/26/2009 7/1/2009 Yes (6/26/2009) No ‡
P.L. 111-40, A bill to award a Congressional Gold Medal to the Women Airforce Service Pilots (”WASP”) 6/24/2009 7/1/2009 Yes (6/29/2009)* No ‡
P.L. 111-41, The Korean War Veterans Recognition Act 7/27/2009 7/27/2009 No (7/25/2009)* No
P.L. 111-42, Approving the renewal of import restrictions contained in the Burmese Freedom and Democracy Act of 2003, and for other purposes 7/27/2009 7/28/2009 No No No
P.L. 111-43, A bill to provide for an additional temporary extension of programs under the Small Business Act and the Small Business Investment Act of 1958, and for other purposes 7/30/2009 7/31/2009 No No No
P.L. 111-44, The New Frontier Congressional Gold Medal Act 7/27/2009 8/7/2009 Yes (7/27/2009)* No ‡
P.L. 111-45, To authorize the Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office to use funds made available under the Trademark Act of 1946 for patent operations in order to avoid furloughs and reductions-in-force, and for other purposes 7/27/2009 8/7/2009 Yes (7/27/2009)* No ‡
P.L. 111-46, To restore sums to the Highway Trust Fund, and for other purposes 8/4/2009 8/7/2009 No (8/5/09) No
P.L. 111-47, Making supplemental appropriations for fiscal year 2009 for the Consumer Assistance to Recycle and Save Program 8/6/2009 8/7/2009 No (8/5/2009) No
P.L. 111-48, The Miami Dade College Land Conveyance Act 7/31/2009 8/12/2009 Yes (7/31/2009)* No ‡
P.L. 111-49, The Judicial Survivors Protection Act of 2009 8/3/2009 8/12/2009 Yes (8/5/2009) No ‡
P.L. 111-50, To designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 46-02 21st Street in Long Island City, New York, as the “Geraldine Ferraro Post Office Building” 8/11/2009 8/19/2009 Yes No No
P.L. 111-51, To designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 601 8th Street in Freedom, Pennsylvania, as the “John Scott Challis, Jr. Post Office” 8/11/2009 8/19/2009 Yes No No
P.L. 111-52, To designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 2351 West Atlantic Boulevard in Pompano Beach, Florida, as the “Elijah Pat Larkins Post Office Building” 8/11/2009 8/19/2009 Yes No No
P.L. 111-53, The Utah Recreational Land Exchange Act of 2009 8/11/2009 8/19/2009 Yes (8/11/2009) No ‡
P.L. 111-54, To designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 41 Purdy Avenue in Rye, New York, as the “Caroline O’Day Post Office Building” 8/11/2009 8/19/2009 Yes No No
P.L. 111-55, To designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 431 State Street in Ogdensburg, New York, as the “Frederic Remington Post Office Building” 8/11/2009 8/19/2009 Yes No No
P.L. 111-56, To designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 123 11th Avenue South in Nampa, Idaho, as the “Herbert A Littleton Postal Station” 8/11/2009 8/19/2009 Yes No No
P.L. 111-57, To designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 1300 Matamoros Street in Laredo, Texas, as the “Laredo Veterans Post Office” 8/11/2009 8/19/2009 Yes No No
P.L. 111-58, To designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 702 East University Avenue in Georgetown, Texas, as the “Kyle G. West Post Office Building” 8/11/2009 8/19/2009 Yes No No
P.L. 111-59, To designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 19190 Cochran Boulevard FRNT in Port Charlotte, Florida, as the “Lieutenant Commander Roy H. Boehm Post Office Building” 8/11/2009 8/19/2009 Yes No No
P.L. 111-60, To extend the deadline for commencement of construction of a hydroelectric project 8/11/2009 8/19/2009 Yes (8/11/2009) No ‡
P.L. 111-61, Recognizing the service, sacrifice, honor, and professionalism of the Noncommissioned Officers of the United States Army 8/11/2009 8/19/2009 Yes (8/11/09) No ‡
P.L. 111-62, A joint resolution granting the consent and approval of Congress to amendments made by the State of Maryland, the Commonwealth of Virginia, and the District of Columbia to the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Regulation Compact 8/7/2009 8/19/2009 Yes (8/7/2009) No ‡
P.L. 111-63, The WIPA and PABSS Reauthorization Act of 2009 9/10/2009 9/18/2009 Yes (9/10/2009) No ‡
P.L. 111-64, A joint resolution providing for the appointment of France A. Cordova as a citizen regent of the Board of Regents of the Smithsonian Institution 9/11/2009 9/18/2009 Yes (9/11/09) No ‡
P.L. 111-65, To provide for the award of a gold medal on behalf of Congress to Arnold Palmer in recognition of his service to the Nation in promoting excellence and good sportsmanship in golf 9/21/2009 9/30/2009 Yes (9/21/2009) No ‡
P.L. 111-66, To provide for an additional temporary extension of programs under the Small Business Act and the Small Business Investment Act of 1958, and for other purposes 9/30/2009 9/30/2009 No (9/30/2009) No
P.L. 111-67, The Defense Production Act Reauthorization of 2009 9/24/2009 9/30/2009 Yes (9/24/2009) No ‡
P.L. 111-68, The Legislative Branch Appropriations Act, 2010 9/30/2009 10/1/2009 No (10/1/2009)
and
(10/23/09)
No
P.L. 111-69, The Fiscal Year 2010 Federal Aviation Administration Extension Act 9/30/2009 10/1/2009 Yes (9/30/2009) No
P.L. 111-70, To amend the Foreign Affairs Reform and Restructuring Act of 1998 to reauthorize the United States Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy 9/30/2009 10/9/2009 Yes (10/1/2009) No ‡
P.L. 111-71, To amend the United States International Broadcasting Act of 1994 to extend by one year the operation of Radio Free Asia, and for other purposes 9/30/2009 10/9/2009 Yes (10/1/2009) No ‡
P.L. 111-72, To amend title XVIII of the Social Security Act to delay the date on which the accreditation requirement under the Medicare Program applies to suppliers of durable medical equipment that are pharmacies 10/7/2009 10/13/2009 Yes (10/7/2009) No ‡
P.L. 111-73, The Enhanced Partnership with Pakistan Act of 2009 10/5/2009 10/15/2009 Yes (10/2/2009) No ‡
P.L. 111-74, To designate the Federal building and United States courthouse located at McKinley Avenue and Third Street, SW., Canton, Ohio, as the “Ralph Regula Federal Building and United States Courthouse” 10/7/2009 10/19/2009 Yes No No
P.L. 111-75, To designate the United States courthouse located at 525 Magoffin Avenue in El Paso, Texas, as the “Albert Armendariz, Sr., United States Courthouse” 10/7/2009 10/19/2009 Yes No No
P.L. 111-76, To provide for the transfer of certain Federal Property to the Galveston Historical Foundation 10/7/2009 10/19/2009 Yes (10/7/2009) No ‡
P.L. 111-77, To designate the Federal building located at 844 North Rush Street in Chicago, Illinois, as the “William O. Lipinski Federal Building” 10/7/2009 10/19/2009 Yes No No
P.L. 111-78, To designate the United States courthouse located at 301 Simonton Street in Key West, Florida, as the “Sidney M. Aronovitz United States Courthouse” 10/7/2009 10/19/2009 Yes No No
P.L. 111-79, The Foreign Evidence Request Efficiency Act of 2009 10/7/2009 10/19/2009 Yes (10/7/2009) No ‡
P.L. 111-80, The Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2010 10/16/2009 10/21/2009 Yes (10/9/2009) No ‡
P.L. 111-81, The Veterans Health Care Budget Reform and Transparency Act of 2009 10/16/2009 10/22/2009 Yes (10/16/2009)* No ‡
P.L. 111-82, A bill to authorize major medical facility leases for the Department of Veterans Affairs for fiscal year 2010, and for other purposes 10/15/2009 10/26/2009 Yes No No
P.L. 111-83, The Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act, 2010 10/22/2009 10/28/2009 Yes (10/9/2009) No ‡
P.L. 111-84, The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2010 10/26/2009 10/28/2009 No (10/21/2009)* No
P.L. 111-85, The Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2010 10/21/2009 10/28/2009 Yes (10/21/2009)* No
P.L. 111-86, The Girl Scouts USA Centennial Commemorative Coin Act 10/22/2009 10/29/2009 Yes (10/21/2009)* No ‡
P.L. 111-87, The Ryan White HIV/AIDS Treatment Extension Act of 2009 10/26/2009 10/30/2009 No (10/21/2009)* No
P.L. 111-88, The Department of the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2010 10/30/2009 10/30/2009 No (10/28/2009)* No
P.L. 111-89, A bill to provide for additional temporary extension of programs under the Small Business Act and the Small Business Investment Act of 1958, and for other purposes 10/30/2009 10/30/2009 No (10/29/2009) No
P.L. 111-90, The Morris K. Udall Scholarship and Excellence in National Environmental Policy Amendments Act of 2009 10/22/2009 11/3/2009 Yes (10/22/2009) No ‡
P.L. 111-91, The Medal of Honor Commemorative Coin Act of 2009 10/29/2009 11/6/2009 Yes (10/29/2009) No ‡
P.L. 111-92, The Unemployment Compensation Extension Act of 2009 11/5/2009 11/6/2009 No (11/5/2009) No
P.L. 111-93, The Credit CARD Technical Corrections Act of 2009 10/30/2009 11/6/2009 Yes (10/30/2009)* No ‡
P.L. 111-94, Proclaiming Casimir Pulaski to be an honorary citizen of the United States posthumously 10/29/2009 11/6/2009 Yes (10/29/2009) No ‡
P.L. 111-95, A bill to amend title 36, United States Code, to grant a Federal charter to the Military Officers Association of America, and for other purposes 10/30/2009 11/6/2009 Yes (10/30/2009)* No ‡
P.L. 111-96, A bill to allow the funding for the interoperable emergency communications grant program established under the Digital Television Transition and Public Safety Act of 2005 to remain available until expended through fiscal year 2012, and for other purposes 10/30/2009 11/6/2009 Yes (10/30/2009) No ‡
P.L. 111-97, The Military Spouses Residency Relief Act 11/4/2009 11/11/2009 Yes (11/4/2009) No ‡
P.L. 111-98, A bill to authorize a major medical facility project at the Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Walla, Walla, Washington, and for other purposes 11/4/2009 11/11/2009 Yes No No
P.L. 111-99, To designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 10355 Northeast Valley Road in Rollingbay, Washington, as the “John ‘Bud’ Hawk Post Office” 11/20/2009 11/30/2009 Yes No No
P.L. 111-100, To designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 37926 Church Street in Dade City, Florida, as the “Sergeant Marcus Mathes Post Office” 11/20/2009 11/30/2009 Yes No No
P.L. 111-101, To name the South Central Agricultural Research Laboratory of the Department of Agriculture in Lane, Oklahoma, and the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 310 North Perry Street in Bennington, Oklahoma, in honor of former Congressman Wesley “Wes” Watkins 11/20/2009 11/30/2009 Yes No No
P.L. 111-102, To designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 4282 Beach Street in Akron, Michigan, as the “Akron Veterans Memorial Post Office” 11/20/2009 11/30/2009 Yes No No
P.L. 111-103, To designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 140 Merriman Road in Garden City, Michigan, as the “John J. Shivnen Post Office Building” 11/20/2009 11/30/2009 Yes No No
P.L. 111-104, To designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 1615 North Wilcox Avenue in Los Angeles, California, as the “Johnny Grant Hollywood Post Office Building” 11/20/2009 11/30/2009 Yes No No
P.L. 111-105, To designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 115 West Edward Street in Erath, Louisiana, as the “Conrad DeRouen, Jr. Post Office” 11/20/2009 11/30/2009 Yes No No
P.L. 111-106, To designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 867 Stockton Street in San Francisco, California, as the “Lim Poon Lee Post Office” 11/20/2009 11/30/2009 Yes No No
P.L. 111-107, To designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 1165 2nd Avenue in Des Moines, Iowa, as the “Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans Memorial Post Office” 11/20/2009 11/30/2009 Yes No No
P.L. 111-108, To designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 936 South 250 East in Provo, Utah, as the “Rex E. Lee Post Office Building” 11/20/2009 11/30/2009 Yes No No
P.L. 111-109, A bill to redesignate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 2777 Logan Avenue in San Diego, California, as the “Cesar E. Chavez Post Office” 1/28/2009 1/29/2009 No No No
P.L. 111-110, A bill to designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 60 School Street, Orchard Park, New York, as the “Jack F. Kemp Post Office Building” 11/19/2009 11/30/2009 Yes No No
P.L. 111-111, A bill to designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 630 Northeast Killingsworth Avenue in Portland, Oregon, as the “Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Post Office” 11/19/2009 11/30/2009 Yes No No
P.L. 111-112, A bill to extend the authority for relocation expenses test programs for Federal employees, and for other purposes 11/19/2009 11/30/2009 Yes No No
P.L. 111-113, A bill to amend title 36, United States Code, to include in the Federal charter of the Reserve Officers Association leadership positions newly added in its constitution and bylaws 12/2/2009 12/14/2009 Yes (12/2/2009) No ‡
P.L. 111-114, A bill to permit each current member of the Board of Directors of the Office of Compliance to serve for 3 terms 12/2/2009 12/14/2009 Yes (12/2/2009) No ‡
P.L. 111-115, To amend titles II and XVI of the Social Security Act to prohibit retroactive payments to individuals during periods for which such individuals are prisoners, fugitive felons, or probation or parole violators 12/14/2009 12/15/2009 No No No
P.L. 111-116, To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to extend the funding and expenditure authority of the Airport and Airway Trust Fund, to amend title 49, United States Code, to extend authorizations for the airport improvement program, and for other purposes 12/14/2009 12/16/2009 No (12/14/2009) No
P.L. 111-117, Making appropriations for the Departments of Transportation, and Housing and Urban Development, and related agencies for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2010, and for other purposes 12/15/2009 12/16/2009 No (12/15/2009) No
P.L. 111-118, Making appropriations for the Department of Defense for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2010, and for other purposes 12/19/2009 12/19/2009 No (12/19/2009) No
P.L. 111-119, A bill to amend the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 to clarify the eligibility requirements with respect to airline flight crews 12/9/2009 12/21/2009 Yes (12/11/2009) Yes
P.L. 111-120, To extend through December 31, 2010, the authority of the Secretary of the Army to accept and expend funds contributed by non-Federal public entities to expedite the processing of permits 12/14/2009 12/22/2009 Yes (12/14/2009) Yes
P.L. 111-121, Appointing the day for the convening of the second session of the One Hundred Eleventh Congress 12/16/2009 12/22/2009 Yes (12/16/2009) Yes
P.L. 111-122, A bill to establish a section within the Criminal Division of the Department of Justice to enforce human rights laws, to make technical and conforming amendments to criminal and immigration laws pertaining to human rights violations, and for other purposes 12/17/2009 12/22/2009 Yes (12/17/2009) Yes
P.L. 111-123, To permit continued financing of Government operations 12/24/2009 12/28/2009 No (12/25/2009) No
P.L. 111-124, To extend the Generalized System of Preferences and the Andean Trade Preference Act, and for other purposes 12/23/2009 12/28/2009 Yes (12/23/2009) Yes
P.L. 111-125, To extend the commercial space transportation liability regime 12/24/2009 12/28/2009 No (12/25/2009) No
P.L. 111-126, To accelerate the income tax benefits for charitable cash contributions for the relief of victims of the earthquake in Haiti 01/22/2010 01/22/2010 No (01/22/2010) No
P.L. 111-127, The Emergency Aid to American Survivors of the Haiti Earthquake Act 01/27/2010 01/27/2010 No n/a E! n/a E!
P.L. 111-128, To designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 116 North West Street in Somerville, Tennessee, as the “John S. Wilder Post Office Building” 01/20/2010 01/29/2010 Yes No No
P.L. 111-129, To designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 76 Brookside Avenue in Chester, New York, as the “1st Lieutenant Louis Allen Post Office” 01/20/2010 01/29/2010 Yes No No
P.L. 111-130, To designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 9810 Halls Ferry Road in St. Louis, Missouri, as the “Coach Jodie Bailey Post Office Building” 01/20/2010 01/29/2010 Yes No No
P.L. 111-131, To designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 440 South Gulling Street in Portola, California, as the “Army Specialist Jeremiah Paul McCleery Post Office Building” 01/20/2010 01/29/2010 Yes No No
P.L. 111-132, To designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 427 Harrison Avenue in Harrison, New Jersey, as the “Patricia D. McGinty-Juhl Post Office Building” 01/20/2010 01/29/2010 Yes No No
P.L. 111-133, To designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 16555 Springs Street in White Springs, Florida, as the “Clyde L. Hillhouse Post Office Building” 01/20/2010 01/29/2010 Yes No No
P.L. 111-134, To designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 170 North Main Street in Smithfield, Utah, as the “W. Hazen Hillyard Post Office Building” 01/20/2010 01/29/2010 Yes No No
P.L. 111-135, To designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 3900 Darrow Road in Stow, Ohio, as the “Corporal Joseph A. Tomci Post Office Building” 01/20/2010 01/29/2010 Yes No No
P.L. 111-136, To provide for an additional temporary extension of programs under the Small Business Act and the Small Business Investment Act of 1958, and for other purposes 01/29/2010 01/29/2010 No No No
P.L. 111-137, To amend title 38, United States Code, to expand veteran eligibility for reimbursement by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs for emergency treatment furnished in a non-Department facility, and for other purposes 01/20/2010 02/01/2010 Yes (01/20/2010) Yes
P.L. 111-138, A bill to provide that claims of the United States to certain documents relating to Franklin Delano Roosevelt shall be treated as waived and relinquished in certain circumstances 01/22/2010 02/01/2010 Yes No No
P.L. 111-139, Increasing the statutory limit on the public debt 02/04/2010 02/12/2010 Yes No No
P.L. 111-140, The Nuclear Forensics and Attribution Act 02/04/2010 02/16/2010 Yes No No
P.L. 111-141, An Act to extend expiring provisions of the USA PATRIOT Improvement and Reauthorization Act of 2005 and Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 until February 28, 2011 02/26/2010 02/27/2010 No (02/26/2010) No
P.L. 111-142, The Social Security Disability Applicants’ Access to Professional Representation Act of 2010 02/25/2010 02/27/2010 No (02/25/2010) No
P.L. 111-143, The Criminal History Background Checks Pilot Extension Act of 2009 02/17/2010 03/01/2010 Yes No No
P.L. 111-144, The Temporary Extension Act of 2010 03/02/2010 03/02/2010 No (03/03/2010) No
P.L. 111-145, The Capitol Police Administrative Technical Corrections Act of 2009 03/04/2010 03/04/2010 No (02/26/2010)* No
P.L. 111-146, The Trademark Technical and Conforming Amendment Act of 2010 03/17/2010 03/17/2010 No (03/05/2010) Yes †
P.L. 111-147, The Hiring Incentives to Restore Employment Act 03/17/2010 03/18/2010 No (03/18/2010)* No
P.L. 111-148, The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act 03/22/2010 03/23/2010 No (03/14/2010)* No
P.L. 111-149, To amend the North American Wetlands Conservation Act to establish requirements regarding payment of the non-Federal share of the costs of wetlands conservation projects in Canada that are funded under that Act, and for other purposes 03/15/2010 03/25/2010 Yes (03/15/2010)* Yes
P.L. 111-150, P.L. 111-150, To permit the use of previously appropriated funds to extend the Small Business Loan Guarantee Program, and for other purposes 03/26/2010 03/26/2010 No No No
P.L. 111-151, The Satellite Television Extension Act of 2010 03/26/2010 03/26/2010 No No No
P.L. 111-152, The Reconciliation Act of 2010 03/30/2010 03/30/2010 No No No
P.L. 111-153, The Federal Aviation Administration Extension Act of 2010 03/26/2010 03/31/2010 Yes (03/26/2010)* Yes
P.L. 111-154, The PACT Act 03/19/2010 03/31/2010 Yes (03/18/2010)* Yes
P.L. 111-155, The Prevent Deceptive Census Look Alike Mailings Act 04/01/2010 04/07/2010 Yes No No
P.L. 111-156, Recognizing and honoring the Blinded Veterans Association on its 65th anniversary of representing blinded veterans and their families 04/01/2010 04/07/2010 Yes No No
P.L. 111-157, The Continuing Extension Act of 2010 04/15/2010 04/15/2010 No No No
P.L. 111-158, The Debt Relief for Earthquake Recovery in Haiti Act of 2010 04/15/2010 04/26/2010 Yes (04/15/2010)* Yes
P.L. 111-159, To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to ensure that health coverage provided by the Department of Defense is treated as minimal essential coverage 04/14/2010 04/26/2010 Yes (04/14/2010)* Yes
P.L. 111-160, A joint resolution granting the consent and approval of Congress to amendments made by the State of Maryland, the Commonwealth of Virginia, and the District of Columbia to the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Regulation Compact 04/16/2010 04/26/2010 Yes (04/16/2010)* Yes
P.L. 111-161, The Airport and Airway Extension Act of 2010 04/29/2010 04/30/2010 No (04/29/2010)* No
P.L. 111-162, A bill to provide for an additional temporary extension of programs under the Small Business Act and the Small Business Investment Act of 1958, and for other purposes 04/29/2010 04/30/2010 No (04/29/2010)* No
P.L. 111-163, The Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act of 2009 04/27/2010 05/05/2010 Yes (04/23/2010) Yes
P.L. 111-164, To designate the Department of Veterans Affairs blind rehabilitation center in Long Beach, California, as the “Major Charles R. Soltes, Jr., O.D. Department of Veterans Affairs Blind Rehabilitation Center” 04/26/2010 05/07/2010 Yes (04/26/2010)* Yes


* Page now gone, but it was either directly observed, evidence of it appears in Whitehouse.gov search, or White House says it existed.

† Bill was posted for five days after final passage, though not formal presentment. Counted as “Yes.”

‡ Link to final version of bill on impossible-to-find page.

E! Emergency legislation not subject to five-day posting.

HouseLive.gov Video: Wait and See

The potential of streaming video from the House of Representatives is so great that my first impression of the House’s new video offering, HouseLive.gov, has been disappointment. There is much room to improve HouseLive.gov, and I hope it will improve.

At first, I couldn’t find any video that was actually live. (That would inject a bit of irony into the name, eh?) But there is live video: On the homepage, scroll down to the top of the “Most Recent Sessions” chart. If the top of the list has an item called “In Progress,” the House is in session. Clicking the video link will get you live video from the House floor.

(Don’t be fooled by the “Subscribe to Live Feeds” box. Those are RSS feeds, which are “live”—as in regularly updated. They’re not live video or audio.)

Most people will probably access this from the House clerk’s familiar “Floor Summary” page, which has near-real-time updates about House activity. But that page says “Streaming video is not available for this session.” That’s a hiccup that should be easy to fix.

Selecting a past day, one can watch the video of that day, but in my early tests, you had to watch the video from the beginning. I don’t think many people are going to watch 10 hours of video to pick up their representative’s remarks on the bill to congratulate Camp Dudley of Westport, New York, on its 125th anniversary.

I’ve been testing in Firefox. In Internet Explorer, I got some links that do things. It appears you will be able to navigate around a day’s video based on the activity of the House. That is, you can jump to where the House began debate on the Camp Dudley bill.

Hopefully, the system will work in standards-compliant browsers, not only Microsoft’s. I note that the video currently plays only in Windows Media Player or Microsoft’s Silverlight. I’ll leave it to friends better versed in video to critique the selection of formats, but I have doubts about these two as being the best, and most open, available.

Beyond junctures in House debate, there should be more tagging to make the video useful. Not only should you be able to navigate via House activity, you should be able to navigate by bill number, and by member of Congress.

When you do navigate around, I don’t see that the “share” link changes. This needs fixing so that people can direct friends and colleagues to key portions of debates. In fact, you should be able to link to any point in the video. Ideally, there should be an embed function that allows defined segments of video to go into blog posts and such. That latter one is a big ask, but Congress is a big, important institution.

It’s early yet. Maybe these things are in the works or on the drawing board. Rolling HouseLive.go out in “beta,” getting feedback, and fixing it is A-OK. But sometimes government agencies set a course and have a hard time changing after that. The Thomas legislative system, brilliant as it was for 1995, still isn’t publishing bill data in good formats, and a private provider has had to take up the slack.

HouseLive.gov is better than nothing. It can be much, much better than it is.

It’s Not the Crime, It’s the Cover-Up

Secrecy breeds suspicion, and little in the intellectual property area has garnered more suspicion than ACTA, the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement.

ACTA is a multilateral trade agreement that has been under negotiation since 2007. But the negotiations haven’t been public, and access to key documents has only been provided to people willing to sign a non-disclosure agreement.

It is inconsistent with the U.S. public’s expectations to have government officials negotiate public policies without providing public access to the deliberations and the documents. There are some limitations and exceptions to this principle. Generic diplomatic relations probably develop best in an environment where candor can prevail. Issues related to national security may require secret negotiations. But intellectual property issues affect all Americans’ communications, commerce, entertainment, expression, access to knowledge, medical care, privacy, and more.

The good news is that a text of the current draft agreement has now been released. According to James Love of Knowledge Ecology International, ACTA “goes way beyond counterfeiting and copyright piracy, into several categories of intellectual property rights, including patents, semi conductor chip designs, pharmaceutical test data and other topics.”

Public debate on ACTA can now begin, but it begins with doubts surrounding it, doubts that were sown by the non-public process in which ACTA has developed so far.

How Much Government Snooping? Google It Up!

The secrecy surrounding government surveillance is a constant source of frustration to privacy activists and scholars: It’s hard to have a serious discussion about policy when it’s like pulling teeth to get the most elementary statistics about the scope of state information gathering, let alone any more detailed information. Even when reporting is statutorily required, government agencies tend to drag their heels making statistics available to Congress – and it can take even longer to make the information more widely accessible. Phone and Internet companies, even when they join the fight against excessive demands for information, are typically just as reluctant to talk publicly about just how much of their customers’ information they’re required to disclose. That’s why I’m so pleased at the news that Google has launched their Government Requests transparency tool.  It shows a global map on which users can see how many governmental demands for user information or content removal have been made to Google’s ever-growing empire of sites – now including Blogger, YouTube, and Gmail – starting with the last six months.

So far, the information up there is both somewhat limited and lacking context.  For instance, it might seem odd that Brazil tops the list of governmental information hounds until you bear in mind that Google’s Orkut social network, while little-used by Americans, is the Brazilian equivalent of Facebook.

There are also huge gaps in the data: The United States comes in second with 3,580 requests from law enforcement at all levels, but that doesn’t include intelligence requests, so National Security Letters (tens of thousands of which are issued every year) and FISA warrants or “metadata” orders (which dwarf ordinary federal wiretaps in number) aren’t part of the tally. And since China considers all such government information requests to be state secrets – whether for criminal or intelligence investigations – no data from the People’s Republic is included.

Neither is there any detail about the requests they have counted – how many are demands for basic subscriber information, how many for communications metadata, and how many for actual e-mail or chat contents. The data on censorship is similarly limited: They’re counting governmental but not civil requests, such as takedown notices under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

For all those limits – and the company will be striving to provide some more detail, within the limits of the law – this is a great step toward bringing vital transparency to the shadowy world of government surveillance, and some nourishment to the data-starved wretches who seek to study it. We cannot have a meaningful conversation about whether censorship or invasion of privacy in the name of security have gone too far if we do not know, at a minimum, what the government is doing. So, for a bit of perspective, we know that U.S. courts reported a combined total of 1,793 (criminal, not intel) wiretaps sought by both federal and state authorities. Almost none of these (less than 1 percent) were for electronic interception.

This may sound surprising, unless you keep in mind that federal law establishes a very high standard for the “live” interception of communications over a wire, but makes it substantially easier – under some circumstances rather terrifyingly easy – to get stored communications records. So there’s very little reason for police to jump through all the hoops imposed on wiretap orders when they want to read a target’s e-mails.

If and when Google were to break down that information about requests – to show how many were “full content” as opposed to metadata requests – we would begin to have a far more accurate picture of the true scope of governmental spying. Should other major players like Yahoo and Facebook be inspired to follow Google’s admirable lead here, it would be better still.  Already, though, that one data point from a single company – showing more than twice as many data requests as the total number of phone wiretaps reported for the entire country – suggests that there is vastly more actual surveillance going on than one might infer from official wiretap numbers.

University of Maryland Beating Editorial

The Washington Post has an excellent editorial on the beating that Prince George’s County officers gave University of Maryland student John J. McKenna. As I said in this post, the beating, and the false charges filed against McKenna, would never have resulted in the suspension of (and possible charges against) the officers involved without video that showed the officers’ unwarranted aggression. As the Post puts it:

Instead, it was not until the video surfaced this week that Prince George’s Police Chief Roberto L. Hylton learned of it, he said, adding that he was “outraged and disappointed.” Why wasn’t he “outraged and disappointed” that his own police had not come forward earlier to report the incident? After all, media reports at the time included eyewitness accounts of excessive police violence. Wasn’t it Chief Hylton’s responsibility to investigate those allegations? The unavoidable conclusion is that had there been no video, the conspiracy of police silence and coverup would have succeeded.

McKenna was fortunate that his family had the resources to hire a private investigator to find the video. Not everyone is so lucky, and it makes the case for changing Maryland’s unanimous consent law for recording conversations, as this case highlights. Laws that prevent the recording of interactions with police prevent transparency in what is supposed to be an open and free society.

House Procedure—and Transparency in Collapse

Over on the WashingtonWatch.com blog, I’ve laid out in the simplest terms I could what’s going on in terms of procedure with health care overhaul legislation. The post, called “What is Deeming, Anyway?”, comes in at a mere 900 words… If you’re a real public policy junkie, you might like it.

But what about the transparency oriented processes that President Obama and leaders like Speaker Pelosi promised the public? Recall that the Speaker promised to post the health care bill online for 72 hours before a vote back in September.

There was debate about whether she stuck to her promise then. And it was probably a one-time promise. It’s almost certain that she will not do so now. If she lines up the votes to pass the bill, the vote will happen. Right. Then.

What about President Obama’s promise to put health care negotiations on C-SPAN? The daylong roundtable debate on health care was an engaging illustration of what happens when you do transparent legislating. Voters got a clearer picture of where each side stands—and perhaps saw that there actually is some competence on both sides of the aisle. Some competence.

The health care negotiations going on right now are the ones that matter. This is when the most important details are being hammered out. This is when the bargaining that draws the public’s ire is happening. But I’m not seeing it on C-SPAN.

President Obama’s promise may have been naive, but that doesn’t excuse breaking it. The inside negotiations going on this week represent an ongoing violation of the president’s C-SPAN promise.

And there’s good reason to anticipate that the president will violate his Sunlight Before Signing promise as well. This was his promise to post bills online for five days after he receives them from Congress before signing them into law.

The reason why I’m so confident of a prospective violation—aside from the promise being flouted more often than not—is that the White House has posted the Senate-passed health care overhaul bill on the “Pending Legislation” page of Whitehouse.gov. H.R. 3590 as passed by the Senate is right there in among the bills Congress has passed, which are getting their five-day public review.

If the White House plans to argue that the health care overhaul legislation got the five-day public review President Obama promised, that will not fly at all.

The substance of the Sunlight Before Signing promise is to post bills for five days after Congress’ final vote. (I’ve recommended starting the clock at “presentment,” the formal constitutional step when the president receives a bill from Congress.)

Something other than that, such as posting the Senate bill before it passes the House—while failing to post the “fixer” bill for five days—would fundamentally violate the president’s transparency promise.

What an irony if all this were to happen this week, which, after all, is Sunshine Week!

The President Comments on Sunshine Week

It is “Sunshine Week,” a time for attending to government transparency issues. And the president issued a statement today commemorating the occassion. Norm Eisen, the president’s special counsel for ethics and government reform, put a more detailed “Happy Sunshine Week” post on the Whitehouse.gov blog today as well.

The administration has done some good things, and there is no doubt that it means to do well. My pet transparency issue is one on which the news is not so good, however: the “Sunlight Before Signing” promise to post bills received from Congress for five days before they are made law.

When I last reported, the president was seven for 142 on fulfilling this promise. Of 142 bills subject to Sunlight Before Signing, only seven have been posted for five days. Since then another law has passed—H.R. 1299/P.L. 111-145, which was presented to the president on March 2nd, posted on Whitehouse.gov on March 4th, and signed into law the same day.

No emergency excuses the “United States Capitol Police Administrative Technical Corrections Act of 2009” from the sunlight treatment. Had it been posted, Americans may have had the opportunity to ask why a bill of that name establishes a “Corporation for Travel Promotion” to encourage international travel to the United States.

(Answer: S. 1023 was rolled into it, obscuring what Congress was doing in a common but insidious way. Cost of S. 1023 per U.S. family: about $24.)

The White House’s fulfillment of the Sunlight Before Signing promise now stands at seven for 143, or .049.

In his post, Norm Eisen said, “We are proud of our successes, but we of course recognize that much remains to be done, and we intend to redouble our efforts to make government as transparent, collaborative and participatory as possible.” And in his statement, the president said, “We are proud of these accomplishments, but our work is not done. We will continue to work toward an unmatched level of transparency, participation  and accountability across the entire Administration.”

The successes touted by Eisen and the president are real. We’re looking forward to more!