During Sunshine Week and amid autocrats around the world like Vladimir Putin cracking down on citizens’ freedom of information, U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), the Senate’s fiercest advocate for government accountability and combating waste, fraud, and abuse, is putting Washington on notice with a new proposal to give American citizens a “watchdog” to ensure government officials and agencies are complying with our transparency laws.
Ernst’s Watchdog Act establishes a Director of Openness in Government, or D.O.G., within the White House to ensure transparency laws—like the Freedom of Information Act, or FOIA—are being properly followed.
“Iowans, and all Americans, have a right to know what’s happening in Washington, but without proper supervision, our transparency laws are often more bark than bite,” said Senator Joni Ernst. “As autocrats around the world, from Russia to China, try to crack down on citizens’ freedom of information, my bill will ensure here in America we open our government to the public and the officials we pay with our tax dollars fully comply with our transparency laws.
Ernst continued, “Sticking up for the taxpayer and holding government officials accountable might not make me a lot of friends inside the Beltway, but you know what they say: ‘if you want a friend in Washington, get a dog.’”
Ernst took to the Senate Floor to talk about how her Watchdog Act will shine “a light on what’s really going on in Washington:”
Justin Goodman, Senior Vice President at White Coat Waste Project, said, “White Coat Waste Project applauds Senator Ernst’s longstanding commitment to government transparency, and is proud to support the Watchdog Act. Taxpayers have a right to know how their money is being spent, and the Watchdog Act will increase transparency across the entire government. Sen. Ernst wisely recognizes that sunlight is the best disinfectant against waste, fraud, and abuse, and we look forward to the swift passage of the Watchdog Act.”
Adam Andrzejewski, CEO & founder of OpenTheBooks.com, said, “Continued progress on government transparency requires the continuous oversight. This bill creates a point person within the administration with the primary responsibility to ensure that agencies and officials are meeting the transparency requirements set by Congress. A transparency czar will hopefully cut through any bureaucratic red tape and make transparency an ongoing priority.”
Liz Hempowicz, the Director of Public Policy at the Project On Government Oversight (POGO), said, “We believe that transparency revolutionizes U.S. public policy. There is a war on transparency within the federal agencies and this legislation helps to reestablish the constitutional and executive-level importance of the people’s right to know.”
Ernst’s Watchdog Act will put a D.O.G. in the White House who will:
- Provide taxpayers with a summary of the information they have a right to know and how to obtain it;
- Review complaints about failures by any agency to comply with a federal transparency law; and
- Grade each agency annually on the timeliness and completeness of information provided to the public.
Today, Ernst gave her March 2022 Squeal Award to “the unelected bureaucrats” who aren’t properly complying with our nation’s transparency laws.