Peters, Portman Introduce Bill to Improve Transparency of Federal Spending

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senators Gary Peters (D-MI), Ranking Member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, and Rob Portman (R-OH) announced the introduction of bipartisan legislation to help make information about how the federal government is spending taxpayer dollars more accessible to taxpayers. The Congressional Budget Justification Transparency Act of 2019 will improve government transparency by requiring federal agencies to publish easily understandable justifications for their budget requests on a single, central website each year. Congressional budget justifications are plain-language explanations of how agencies propose to spend money that they request from Congressional appropriators. The materials would also be posted on each agency’s website.

“Michiganders deserve to know how their hard-earned tax dollars are being spent, but budget justifications are often difficult to find or not publicly available at all,” said Senator Peters. “Each year, the federal government spends more than $100 million in Michigan, but without clear information about how resources are allocated, it’s difficult for taxpayers to see exactly how their hard-earned tax dollars are being invested in their communities. This bipartisan bill will help to strengthen accountability for government agencies and help taxpayers in Michigan and across the country verify their tax dollars are being used effectively and efficiently.”

“Ohioans and all Americans should be able easily evaluate how the federal government is spending their hard-earned tax dollars,” said Senator Portman. “This bipartisan legislation will improve federal government transparency by requiring federal agencies to publish their annual budget justifications on a centralized website. I hope my colleagues will join me in supporting this legislation to ensure the transparency Americans deserve on government spending.”

"Government accountability is a fundamental principle in a democracy, and knowing the government's accounts – how agencies plan to spend taxpayer funds – is the bedrock for such accountability," said Daniel Schuman, Policy Director at Demand Progress. "Senators Gary Peters and Rob Portman have rightly decided to hold the government to account by introducing legislation to require all its spending plans to be available online in one spot so that everyone can see how they intend to spend taxpayer funds."

The Congressional Budget Justification Transparency Act of 2019 would amend the Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act of 2006 to require that agency budget justifications be made publicly available on a centralized, searchable website, as well as each agency’s own website. It also requires OMB to keep an updated list of agencies that are expected to submit budget justifications, the date of submission to Congress, the date the justification is posted online, and a link to the materials online.

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