Press Releases

Demand Progress Teams With Cause of Action To De-Politicize Federal Spending Decisions

Oversight organizations call on Office of Management and Budget to enforce pro-transparency executive order

Demand Progress Media Contact: Daniel Schuman, 202-577-6100
Email: [email protected]

Cause of Action Media Contact: Geoff Holtzman, 703-405-3511
Email: [email protected]

WASHINGTON – Today, nonprofit government accountability organizations Cause of Action and Demand Progress are petitioning the Office of Management and Budget to uphold an executive order that ensures American taxpayers are protected from government spending on wasteful earmarks.

Cause of Action and Demand Progress have penned a letter to OMB Director Shaun Donovan, asking that his agency issue a rule that will ensure Executive Order 13457, Protecting American Taxpayers From Government Spending on Wasteful Earmarks, is enforced. This executive order was intended to curb abusive earmarking and politically pressured discretionary spending, but a Cause of Action investigation has found that the order has not been widely enforced.


Demand Progress Policy Director Daniel Schuman issued the following statement:

“The administration must add a measure of transparency to earmark requests received by executive branch agencies. Federal spending decisions should be made on merit and in the sunshine. There already is an executive order on the books that addresses secret calls and letters by Congress and special pleaders. It is time to enforce it.”

Cause of Action Executive Director Daniel Epstein issued the following statement:

“Cause of Action’s research shows that for years, federal agencies have been ignoring a binding executive order designed to protect taxpayer dollars from being misused. Our organizations believe that Washington has a duty to the public to ensure that federal discretionary spending decisions are transparent and merit-based.”

Cause of Action’s examination of federal discretionary spending through Freedom Of Information Act records and federal databases has revealed that OMB’s current efforts to ensure that discretionary grant decision-making is transparent and merit-based are ineffective. As a result, political appointees and others can use federal tax dollars to reward political allies and appease powerful interests.

Cause of Action and Demand Progress feel that this demonstrates a need for OMB to act in order to restore transparency and accountability. Therefore, the organizations are teaming up to petition OMB to issue, at a minimum, a memorandum that does the following:

1. Confirms that Executive Order 13457 binds discretionary agency spending;

2. Affirms that it is prohibited to allocate discretionary funds in response to congressional requests outside of a transparent, merit-based decision-making process, and that agencies are not obligated to fund such requests;

3. Recognizes that congressional and non-congressional entities and individuals can and do exert pressure on discretionary spending decision-making on federal projects, programs, contracts, and grants;

4. Requires executive departments and agencies to make available to the public records of all written and oral communications from any source that references: (1) earmarks previously enacted into law, (2) earmarks referenced in congressional reports or materials, or (3) discretionary funds not yet awarded, if the agency is “pressured informally to show special favor to certain parties or interests in the course of agency decision-making;”

5. Directs executive departments and agencies to make records of these communications publicly available through their respective websites within 30 days of receiving such communications.

Demand Progress is a national grassroots group with more than two million affiliated activists who fight for basic rights and freedoms needed for a modern democracy.

Cause of Action is a non-profit, nonpartisan strategic oversight organization committed to ensuring that government decision-making is open, honest, and fair.