Congressman James Lankford (R-OK) introduced H.R. 3609, the Taxpayers Right to Know Act, in the House today to provide the American people with a better understanding of how their tax dollars are spent. Congressman Dan Boren (D-OK) is an original cosponsor of the legislation, and Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) is the lead sponsor in the Senate.
A GAO report released in March 2011 found "overlap and fragmentation among government programs or activities can be harbingers of unnecessary duplication." The Taxpayers Right to Know Act addresses this waste in government by requiring each federal agency to produce an annual report that identifies every program with a description of the program and its costs, expenditures for services, beneficiaries of services and number of staff. This information would be posted online, along with recommendations from each agency to improve their efficiency. By eliminating overlap, duplicative programs and services and fraudulent payments, GAO estimates billions of dollars could be saved annually.
"GAO's very revealing report released earlier this year highlighted the waste and duplication that run rampant throughout the corridors of our endless bureaucratic structure. As taxpaying Americans, we have a right to know where, when, why, how, and on what our government spends our hard-earned dollars," said Congressman Lankford. "The Taxpayers Right to Know Act will provide the American people with a high-powered magnifying glass to evaluate administrative costs and expenses, which ultimately siphon away funds from the very people they are designed to serve. Access to this vital information will allow us to make each federal program more effective and efficient by streamlining duplicative, outdated, and unnecessary programs while simultaneously improving services and outcomes. Taxpayers deserve the maximum level of accountability for the money they send to Washington each year. This bill demonstrates to the American people that some of us in Congress are actually serious about protecting taxpayer dollars from the waste and duplication inherent in government."
"Earlier this year GAO gave Congress a wake-up call -- a report showing massive duplication throughout the federal government. At a minimum, we could be saving $100 billion every year by consolidating programs and eliminating existing duplication," said Senator Coburn. "A major reason we see so much duplication and waste is the left hand literally does not know what the right hand is doing. Across the government, with few exceptions, agencies have no idea of how many programs they administer. I know because I have asked. This bill will force agencies to provide to Congress and the American people basic information about each program so taxpayers and their representatives can set common sense priorities."
"At a time when we are facing record high deficits, we owe it to the taxpayers to know exactly where their tax dollars are being spent," said Congressman Boren. "We currently do not know the total number of federal government programs, and this needs to change. If we are going to get our country back on track financially, we need to eliminate waste and duplication in our spending. I look forward to working with my colleagues to advance this important legislation."