New Accountability Required of Executive Branch Agencies

Washington, DC – Senate Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Fred Thompson (R-TN) today lauded House passage of the Reports Consolidation Act of 2000, legislation to make federal agency annual performance and financial management reports clearer and more candid. The bill, S.2712, sponsored by Chairman Thompson, passed the Senate on July 19 and now goes to the President for his signature.

“This administration has too often tried to hide the poor management practices of federal agencies,” Chairman Thompson said. “The Reports Consolidation Act requires that agencies give Congress and the American people a more accurate picture of the problems they are facing and what they are achieving – or not achieving – with taxpayer dollars. These will be vital for Congressional efforts to instill better performance throughout the federal government.”

The Thompson bill requires that new information be included in an agency?s annual performance and financial management report to make the report more meaningful and hold agencies more accountable. Specifically:

  • The consolidated report must include an assessment by the agency?s Inspector General of the most serious management and performance problems and challenges facing the agency and agency?s progress in resolving them. This will focus more attention on major problems of fraud, waste and mismanagement that plague agencies year after year and thereby put more pressure on agencies to fix them.
  • The report must include an assessment by the agency head of the completeness and reliability of performance and financial data used in the report and what the agency is doing to remedy any material data inadequacies. This will force agencies to be more candid about the massive problems they face in producing reliable performance data and pressure them to improve. According to GAO, only four out of the 24 major federal agencies now produce credible performance data.
  • Beginning in fiscal year 2003, the consolidated report must be submitted by March 1 of each year, so that it can be used earlier in the appropriations process. (Agencies will have until March 31 to submit these reports in 2001 and 2002.)

“The consolidated and enhanced reports provided for in S. 2712 should force agencies to be clearer and more candid about both their real accomplishments and shortcomings,” Thompson said. “We intend to use this information to praise agencies where they are doing well and to hold their feet to the fire where they are not.”

The bill also provides permanent authority for agencies to consolidate into a single annual report to the Congress separate reports containing key information about their financial management as well as their performance results. This single, comprehensive report will make it easier to tell how well agencies are doing.

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