Today, U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), co-sponsored legislation that would require every federal agency to provide taxpayers with an annual report card online for all programs. The Taxpayers Right to Know Act, S.1957, introduced by U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK), would detail each of the programs the respective federal agency runs, the associated costs, if they duplicate other programs, and their outcomes.
"The Taxpayers Right to Know Act is a step in the right direction toward reducing our nation's $15 trillion debt," said Sen. Chambliss. "The federal government should be transparent and accountable to Americans who pay for these programs. Armed with this knowledge, Congress and the American people can fight to eliminate programs that are duplicative and wasteful, and reduce the size of the federal government."
Co-sponsors are: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), and Senators Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Jim DeMint (R-SC), Mark Begich (D-AK), John McCain (R-AZ), Rand Paul (R-KY), Mike Crapo (R-ID), Daniel Coats (R-IN), Michael Enzi (R-WY), Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), Dean Heller (R-NV), Orrin Hatch (R-UT), and Richard Burr (R-NC). John Thune (R-SD), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Ron Johnson (R-WI), Mike Lee (R-UT), John Boozman (R-AR), John Hoeven (R-ND), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), John Cornyn (R-TX), David Vitter (R-LA), Jon Kyl (R-AZ), Pat Toomey (R-PA), James Risch (R-ID), Roger Wicker (R-MS), James Inhofe (R-OK), John Barrasso (R-WY), and Jeff Sessions (R-AL).
Similar legislation was introduced in the House of Representatives by Congressman James Lankford (R-OK).
A summary of the bill is below.
The Taxpayers Right to Know Act
This bill would require every federal agency to provide taxpayers an annual report card for all of its programs. Each government program would be identified and described. The description would provide 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 administer the program, including contractor staff.
It would also include:
-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 online, along with recommendations from the agency to consolidate duplicative and overlapping programs, eliminate waste and inefficiency, and terminate lower-priority, outdated and unnecessary programs.
No one knows for certain the total number of federal government programs. The Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) provides a listing of 2,179 federal assistance programs available to state and local governments. This represents only one component of all government programs. Foreign aid programs and programs that provide services other than financial assistance, for example, are omitted from the catalogue.
The Government Accountability Office released a report earlier this year that found "overlap and fragmentation among government programs or activities can be harbingers of unnecessary duplication. Reducing or eliminating duplication, overlap, or fragmentation could potentially save billions of taxpayer dollars annually and help agencies provide more efficient and effective services."
According to GAO, "financial benefits ranging from the tens of millions to several billion dollars annually may be realized" by addressing the problem of duplication and that "even limited adjustments could result in significant savings."
To achieve these savings and make government services more efficient and effective, a list of the existing programs and their missions must first be compiled and then maintained.
This bill would apply to all programs, and when enacted would for the first time provide taxpayers with a listing of every program, along with an evaluation of how well each program is working and how much it costs. This will allow Congress to make government programs more effective and efficient by streamlining redundant, outdated and unnecessary programs while improving services and outcomes.
It will also benefit taxpayers by increasing accountability and transparency of how the federal government is spending money and providing greater access to information about government programs and federal assistance.