Online filing: Senators refuse to enter 21st Century


U.S. CongressOne of the hottest broadcast topics in Washington these days has been posting information about political television advertising online. Opinions vary on the manner this should be done, but there is one group which has no moral ground to take any kind of position: members of the US Senate.

The New York Times published an editorial on the topic 4/21/12 in which it called on the Senate to follow the examples of the White House and the House of Representatives in efficiently making financial reports available to the FEC, from whence any who wish can gain access.

The two entities with House in their name just post their reports electronically.

The Senate has a labyrinthine process which delays getting its information to the FEC. First they send information on paper to office of the Senate secretary. It’s scanned and fired off to the FEC, which has to hire an outside contractor to type thousands of pages worth of material into a format that can be used for a computer search. Only then can the FEC put it online.

According to NYT, efforts to bring the system up to today’s standards have met with the types of legislative shenanigans that exemplify the Senate – at one point a lone anonymous senator put a hold on legislation. Other times efforts have been filibustered or larded with poison pills.

RBR-TVBR observation: NYT entitled its remarks “Bartleby Would Understand.” Indeed.