The FEC uses Microsoft Excel 2003 to process campaign finance reports!? And they can’t process campaign finance disclosures because they don’t have Excel 2007 or Microsoft Access!?
The campaign finance reports filed by Obama and Clinton have grown so massive that they’ve strained the capacity of the Federal Election Commission, good government groups, the media and even software applications to process and make sense of the data.
A milestone of sorts was reached earlier this year, when Obama, the Illinois senator whose revolutionary online fundraising has overwhelmed Clinton, filed an electronic fundraising report so large it could not be processed by popular basic spreadsheet applications like Microsoft Excel 2003 and Lotus 1-2-3.
Those programs can’t download data files with more than 65,536 rows or 256 columns.
Obama’s January fundraising report, detailing the $23 million he raised and $41 million he spent in the last three months of 2007, far exceeded 65,536 rows listing contributions, refunds, expenditures, debts, reimbursements and other details. It was the first report to confound basic database programs since 2001, when the Federal Election Commission began directly posting candidates’ fundraising reports online in an effort to make political money more accessible and transparent to voters.
For all the problems of the FEC, I would have thought they could have afforded Access. It’s not even $300.