Ralph Nader
                       P.O. Box 19312
                    Washington, DC 20036
                         James Love
               Consumer Project on Technology
            P.O. Box 19367,  Washington, DC 20036

September 10, 2001

Mitchell E. Daniels, Jr., Director
Office of Management and Budget
Executive Office Building
17th Street & Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, D C 20503
Dear Mr. Director:

We are writing to ask that you use your office to greatly
expand transparency of federal government operations by
placing copies of federal contracts on the Internet.  We are
attaching copies of our January 6, 2000 letter to former
President Bill Clinton, which made a similar request, and a
copy of Mr. Clinton's February 8, 2000 response, which
promised a review of this proposal by OMB's Office of
Information and Regulatory Affairs (ORIA).  As far as we
know, OMB did not undertake the review Mr. Clinton

As noted in our earlier letter, government contracts can
refer to a wide range of written agreements:

     including such items as leases for mineral rights
     from public lands, research grants, industry
     government cooperative agreements, joint ventures
     with industry for the development of energy
     efficient cars, contracts for prison services,
     contracts with the independent counsel, consulting
     contracts, agreements to dispose of nuclear
     wastes, concession agreements for national parks,
     contracts for logging on public lands, licenses to
     government owned patents on biotechnology
     inventions such as the so called terminator seed
     patent, licenses to use public spectrum for
     broadcasting and telecommunications services,
     agreements with firms that do security clearances
     for federal agencies, debt collection contracts
     with private collection agencies, bank bailouts,
     loans and loan guarantee agreements, and countless
     other agreements.

It is our belief that the federal government will be more
accountable to the public if the public had more information
about what the government is doing.   Moreover, we also
believe the public will be surprised to read the terms of
many of these contracts, and will insist on sounder
management of the government's resources.

Few persons working in government are enthusiastic about
implementing measures to provide greater transparency of
their operations, because it predictably leads to criticism
from the public.  However, some agencies have set good
examples, and have found that they benefit from such
scrutiny.  For example, the US Department of Commerce has
routinely placed contracts with the Internet Corporation for
Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) on the Internet, and even
solicited public views on proposed changes in the contracts.
Unfortunately, this attitude or practice is not widespread.
In our January 6, 2000 letter to President Clinton, we
provided notes from Mike Palmedo and Shawn McCarthy's
investigation of the availability of government contracts.
Briefly, they sought to obtain copies of  81 federal
contracts that were listed in the Washington Post on May 10,
17 or 24, 1999.   Palmedo and McCarthy contacted the
businesses and the government agencies that signed the
contracts.   In no cases were they able to obtain copies of
contracts from the businesses, and none of the federal
agencies voluntarily provided copies of the contracts.   As
you know, requests for documents under the FOIA are time
consuming and expensive for both the government and the
public.  Many federal agencies already have internal systems
for managing contracts in electronic formats, and it would
be fairly easy to make these documents available to the
public directly, cutting the expense of doing so under FOIA,
and of course eliminating the delays in disclosures.

As the government increasingly relies upon the private
sector to carry out tasks, and expands private control over
public resources, the contracts with private parties become
the stuff of governance.  By making these essential
documents available to the public, you will ensure that
these activities benefit from wider scrutiny.   We look
forward to your response to this suggestion, one that is
more than the perfunctory set-aside of the Clinton


Ralph Nader          James Love