Earmarks and Transparency

23 September 2006 at 1:26 pm Leave a comment

| Peter Klein |

The US Congress is under increasing pressure to curb “earmarking,” the practice of inserting appropriations for special projects — typically in the sponsoring member’s home district — into general funding bills. Last week Congress passed a bill authorizing the creation of a public, online, searchable database of federal grants, contracts, and earmarks, listing all sponsors, on the theory that greater transparency will reduce the number of frivolous or corrupt awards for legislators’ favorite pet projects.

As several commentators have pointed out, such a database may add little value, because it’s already easy to figure out who sponsored a particular earmark, simply by looking at whose district the money goes to.

In some cases, however, it’s even easier: the sponsor puts his name on the project. The University of Missouri recently dedicated the Christopher S. Bond Life Sciences Center, a $60 million facility (at right) devoted to interdisciplinary research in the life sciences. Christopher “Kit” Bond is Missouri’s senior senator and member of the Senate Appropriations Committee. Bond personally provided $34 million of the center’s budget through Congressional earmarks. It’s a beautiful building, not far from my office. Bond’s name is right on the front, above the main door, in case anyone entering the building should forget where the money came from.

Entry filed under: - Klein -, Classical Liberalism.

Peter Kurrild-Klitgaard New Professor at Copenhagen University Demise of the Public Intellectual

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