WASHINGTON – The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, where U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill serves as the top-ranking Democrat, this week unanimously approved the Taxpayer Right to Know Act. The bill calls for the federal government to make public the details, costs, and performance metrics of every federal program above $1 million and requires all federal agencies to publish an annual, public report card on their progress. This next step for the legislation comes during “Sunshine Week,” a national initiative to promote open government and freedom of information.
“Every taxpayer deserves to know how government is working for them,” said McCaskill, former Missouri State Auditor. “Just like in the classroom, the mandatory report cards in this bill give us the information we need to know on when government agencies use taxpayer dollars wisely—and more importantly, when they’re falling short.”
McCaskill introduced the legislation last month with Republican Senators James Lankford of Oklahoma and Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, and it can now go to the Senate floor for a vote. In addition to the annual report card from each federal agency, the legislation would create a publicly accessible online database of financial data and performance metrics for every federal program above $1 million. It would also require agencies to identify the number of employees working on and provide a description of the beneficiaries served by every federal program.
McCaskill is a leader in fighting for transparency and accountability in the federal government. Earlier this year, the non-partisan organization GovTrack ranked her as the top Senator for government transparency. McCaskill has led efforts to pass the bipartisan Inspector General Empowerment Act, which enhances watchdogs’ ability to oversee waste, fraud, and abuse of taxpayer dollars at federal agencies. McCaskill has also extended and made permanent current whistleblower protections to nearly all federal government grantees, subgrantees, contractors and subcontractors.