Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.), chairman of the Senate Budget Committee’s Government Performance Task Force, and Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R- N.H.), ranking member of the committee, brought forth the Government Reports Elimination Act of 2014.
The legislation’s debut comes on the same day that the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee marks up its own version of the bill. The Government Reports Elimination Act, being considered in the House, was introduced by Reps. Darrell Issa (R- Calif.) and Gerry Connolly (D-Va.).
A related bill, Sen. Warner’s Government Performance and Results Modernization Act of 2010, required federal agencies to identify outdated or duplicative congressionally-mandated reports that could go away or be combined. After agencies took this action, the Office of Management and Budget submitted a list to Congress, which formed the basis of this latest step. The thinking is that getting rid of superfluous reports will cut back on staff time and resources.
“If these unnecessary but required reports are wasting staff time and resources, and are sitting on a shelf collecting dust, then it’s long past time for them to be eliminated or consolidated,” Warner said in a statement. “Eliminating a handful of reports won’t solve our fiscal challenges, but we should take every opportunity to ensure every taxpayer dollar is spent wisely.”
Ayotte said the bill is one element of a larger goal to modernize government.
“This bipartisan legislation is part of my ongoing effort to protect taxpayers by eliminating duplication and waste in federal programs and making government more efficient,” she said.
Under the Senate bill, 321 reports from 29 federal agencies would be affected.
The Department of Defense is the agency with the most unnecessary or duplicative reports out of the 321 in question. Also high on the list are the Department of Health and Human Services, Homeland Security and Agriculture.
More specifically, a report that would be eliminated under the legislation is one by the Social Security Administration tracking its printing activities. Each year, nearly 100 Social Security employees spend about 95 days on the report. However, there is no evidence of any action or reaction from Congress as a result of the findings.
Another example of an unneeded undertaking is an annual report U.S. Customs and Border Protection is required to produce and distribute to 14 members of Congress documenting violations of the Dog and Cat Fur Protection Act of 2000. In the past five years, though, there has been just one violation recorded.