Senators Introduce Bipartisan Bill Requiring Bureaucracy to Disclose Programs

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – U.S. Senator Tom Coburn, M.D. (R-OK) today introduced the “Taxpayers Right to Know Act,” a bill that would require every federal agency to produce an annual report card for each of its programs.  The bill requires each government program to be identified and described, including the total administrative costs of the program, expenditures for services, number of beneficiaries who receive assistance from the program, and an estimate of the number of staff who administers the program; including contractor staff. The bill is backed by a majority of members on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.  A House version of the bill, authored by Representative James Lankford (R-OK), passed late last month.

“Good-government bills like this are precisely what the American people want to see from Congress,” Dr. Coburn said.  “With at least $200 billion wasted on duplication across the government every year, Congress needs to demand accountability and transparency from the federal bureaucracy.  Sadly, most agencies don’t even know how many programs they administer. This bill will change that by requiring agencies to document their programs and activities.  I am pleased the House has already passed this commonsense measure and am hopeful Senate Majority Leader Reid does not block consideration of this bipartisan Senate bill.”   

In a hearing on government management held today in the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, GAO head Gene Dodaro called for a comprehensive inventory of federal programs in order to enhance management practices and reduce fragmentation, overlap and duplication.

The bill is cosponsored by Sens. Kelly Ayotte, (R-NH), Mark Begich (D-AK), Richard Burr (R-NC), Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), Susan Collins (R-ME), Ted Cruz (R-TX), Mike Enzi (R-WY), Jeff Flake (R-AZ), Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Jim Inhofe (R-OK), Ron Johnson (R-WI), John McCain (R-AZ), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Rand Paul (R-KY), Rob Portman (R-OH), Tim Scott (R-SC), Jim Risch (R-ID), David Vitter (R-LA), and Mark Warner (D-VA). 

This bill would address this overlap and unnecessary duplication by also requiring the following: a listing of other programs within the federal government with duplicative or overlapping missions and services; the latest performance reviews for the program, including the metrics used to review the program; the latest improper payment rate for the program, including fraudulent payments; and the total amount of unspent and unobligated program funds held by the agency and grant recipients. This information would be updated annually and posted on-line, along with recommendations from the agency to consolidate duplicative and overlapping programs, eliminate waste and inefficiency, and terminate lower priority, outdated and unnecessary programs.