Records Management

Standardized data format for all government spending

Every dollar allocated by the federal government, stating Jan 1, 2012, must be accounted for using an open standardized data format to be developed and finalized by November 1, 2010. All federal and state agencies must be given usable tools to implement the formats, and all states should be encouraged to use them in their own budgeting process. (This may be an extension of the formats currently being developed and used for the stimulus money.)

 

All organizations receiving money from the government should be given lightweight, easy to use tools to put together this information, and as a plug-in for programs that already hold this data (excel, quicken, etc.) There should be penalties in place for any non-compliant private recipients of the money, and an across the board mandate that any department of the government not having implemented the system have the top 2 officials fired, unless exempted by congress. If exempted by congress, there shall be a penalty of no less than 10% of the yearly salary of these 2 officials until the system is implemented. The exemption must be renewed yearly, and any newly non-compliant organizations are included in this mandate.

 

Any program that is funded by so-called "black budgets" should have the name of the presiding organization on them, and where possible, the congressional oversight they receive. (This data is already collected, at great expense, by many private groups looking through budgets. Publicizing it would create no new risks.) There should also be a date on which the data will be eligible for an FOIA request, and a reference number to facilitate such requests.

 

The format should have tags for the money, so that all money allocated can be split up by, for instance, whether or not a certain company ever received any of it, or whether it was used for office supplies, or food, or banking fees, or whether it was given to a small business, etc. Each of these having its own tag (An XML-based format would be a possible solution.) Incorrect tagging of data done willfully or negligently should have criminal consequences, not less than 1 year in federal prison for any implicated persons.

 

These should be accessible online, aggregated, with a usable API. The data should be available at a reasonable cost on DVD to any interested party.

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Idea No. 2849