Portman, Peters Bill to Improve Transparency of Federal Spending Advances in Senate

Bipartisan Legislation Would Require Federal Agencies to Publish Easily Accessible Annual Budget Justifications Online

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

“Ohioans and all Americans should be able to easily evaluate how the federal government is spending their hard-earned tax dollars,” said Senator Portman. “I’m pleased the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee has approved this bipartisan legislation to 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 when it comes to the Senate floor for a vote.” 

“Hardworking Americans everywhere deserve to know how their tax dollars are being spent, but budget justifications are often difficult to find or concealed from the public completely,” said Senator Peters. “The federal government spends over $100 million in Michigan alone and this commonsense legislation will help folks across Michigan clearly find and understand how these funds are being used. I will continue leading bipartisan efforts to make sure this is signed into law.”   

The Congressional Budget Justification Transparency Act 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 the Office of Management and Budget 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. 

Below are statements in support of the senators’ bipartisan legislation: 

"Spending is often how the federal government makes its priorities clear, and federal agency Congressional budget justifications are the plain-language requests of where and how the Executive branch would like Congress to spend the American people's money," said Daniel Schuman, policy director, Demand Progress. "Sens. Peters and Portman's legislation would make sure the federal government puts its money where its mouth is by requiring agency requests for funding to be publicly available on a central website so everyone can understand what funds federal agencies have requested and why." 

“Senators Peters and Portman should be commended for leading the way on this commonsense good government bill,” said Dylan Hedtler-Gaudette, Government Affairs Manager at the Project on Government Oversight. “It is absolutely essential that Congress and the public have access to information as to how federal agencies are spending taxpayer dollars and the Congressional Budget Justification Transparency Act will go a long way toward ensuring that access.” 

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