In 2011, the US House of Representatives passed new rules that would require all hearings to be broadcast and archived publicly "to the maximum extent practicable" in order to open up the legislative process. Over a year after the policy's inception, though, one of its most important committees is still keeping citizens in the dark. A recent survey by the Sunlight Foundation found that only about 25 percent of videos from the House Appropriations Committee were archived online, and only 22 percent were streamed live.
What makes this even more unusual is that with the exception of the Appropriations Committee, the House is apparently doing an excellent job of implementing the new rules. In fact, 75 percent of total House hearings were streamed, and 78 percent were archived. When the Sunlight Foundation looked at the hearings that had not been streamed or archived, an overwhelming number were from the Appropriations Committee.
So why does it matter that one committee isn't putting its hearings online? Besides the principle of open governance, the House Appropriations Committee is responsible for setting expenditures for the federal government. That means that while we may be able to see what's going on in many investigations and hearings, we aren't actually getting the full story on where money is going. For its part, the Committee has said that video and audio are captured "whenever logistically possible," but that space is limited, something that the Sunlight Foundation disputes. You can check the methodology and other results of the Sunlight Foundation here.