This article from the NYTimes is a nice summary of where the ethics and transparency debate stands today. Practically nowhere. Last fall I was thrilled that ethics and transparency had become a major issue in the elections, and when the Democrats achieved their majorities, I was thrilled again, not because the majority would be Democratic, but because there seemed to be some real motivation to make changes, to fix the many obvious things wrong about Congress. After nearly five months in power (that is, nearing one quarter of their term already over), there’s really nothing to show on the transparency front.
The Open House Project really threw the House a bone. We’ve highlighted a dozen technological changes that House can make that citizens will easily recognize as important improvements to transparency, some of the recommendations being completely noncontroversial, some being ridiculously easy to implement. We know House leaders on both sides know about the recommendations, and we’re ready to help them draft changes if they want our help. If they don’t implement even one of our recommendations, it will be a very sorry state.