House to post expense records online
Closing a huge information gap, the House of Representatives expects to put the expense records of all representatives online.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) released a letter she sent to the House's chief administrative officer today, directing that the House's Statement of Disbursements be posted online "at the earliest date." The Statement of Disbursements includes all official expenses for each member, including salaries.
The expense reports have been released as printed volumes, running to thousands of pages covered in small type each quarter. The volumes were available in a basement office of a House office building.
Until now, LegiStorm's database of congressional salaries was the only online source for any of this data. But the salaries in our database represent only a fraction of the total disbursements made by Congress. The full disbursements also include everything from taxi cab fares to television purchases and rent payments. Unlike the recent expense fund scandal that has caused political turmoil in Britain, members of Congress are required to spend taxpayer funds only on official business and not to pay for personal expenses.
LegiStorm hopes to add the full expense records to our database once the House posts the information online.
The full text of Pelosi's letter is below:
June 3, 2009
The Honorable Dan Beard
Chief Administrative Officer
United States House of Representatives
Washington, D.C. 20015
Dear Mr. Beard:
I am directing that the Chief Administrative Officer's office begin to publish the quarterly Statement of Disbursements for the House of Representatives in an online format at the earliest date. The House is making every effort to operate in a transparent manner and online publication of these reports will expand accountability to taxpayers and the press.
For well over 100 years the United States House of Representatives has compiled and published, on a quarterly basis, a public Statement of Disbursements documenting the expenditures of each Congressional, Committee, Leadership, and administrative office. This publication provides an accurate accounting of the manner in which the House and its Members and officers spend all of the funds appropriated for the conduct of official business.
In the past, this publication has been made available in the Legislative Resource Center or by purchase from the United States Government Printing Office. However, this means for publishing material does not allow all interested parties to review the information contained in the reports. Consistent with my goal to increase transparency and ensure greater accountability to the public, please take all steps necessary to ensure that the quarterly Statement of Disbursements be made available online free of charge to the public and on a suitable House website.
Thank you for your attention to this matter.
Speaker of the House