N.J. Congressman thinks spending transparency bill would affect scientists negatively

     New Jersey Congressman Rush Holt (PRNewsFoto/Princeton HealthCare System - Richard Titus www.titusphoto.com)

    New Jersey Congressman Rush Holt (PRNewsFoto/Princeton HealthCare System - Richard Titus www.titusphoto.com)

    Congress is considering a bill that would make federal agencies more accountable for the accuracy of spending data they post online for the public record. The measure recently cleared the House with support from every member — except one.

    The bill would expand on a 2006 law that set up the public website USASpending.gov. It would standardize the data entry process and require federal agencies to audit what they’re putting online to make sure it’s accurate.

    The bill’s supporters say it’ll help the public follow the money from the time it’s approved by Congress to when it’s given out to contractors.

    New Jersey Congressman Rush Hold stands alone in opposing the bill which he says would cut back on how much federal agencies can spend on sending their employees to conferences. Holt believes that could have a negative impact on government scientists.

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    “They can do their job better if occasionally they’re able to go to professional meetings and interact with other professionals,” he said. “We get better government regulation, better research.”

    Holt admits the government could be more transparent with how it’s spending taxpayer dollars but not at the expense of scientific research.

    “I don’t think the advantages of this are great enough to overweigh the damage that would be done by restricting travel of government scientists and technicians to scientific meetings and interaction with professionals,” he said.

    That’s something Holt, an astrophysicist, couldn’t stand for.

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