Identifying the reports is part of the Government Performance and Results Modernization Act, which Warner sponsored and which President Barack Obama signed into law in January 2011. The law required agencies to better align annual performance goals with the long-term aims identified in their four-year strategic plans.
Warner seeking legislative fix
While GPRA also directed agencies to identify the unnecessary reports, because most of them are congressionally-mandated, only official legislation can completely nullify the reporting requirements.
“So, we have to kind of end up coming back and then clean house in effect to fully implement what was identified by GPRA,” Warner said in an interview on In Depth with Francis Rose.
Warner said he’s still considering the proper legislative fix.
“We’re not saying we’re going to go in and endorse all of OMB’s requirements,” he said. “But we want to comb through this, figure out which of these …. we concur with OMB on in terms of either elimination and consolidation.”
Warner said the bill would “show to the federal workforce that we’re not just simply trying to be additive, that we’re actually trying to eliminate some of the outdated and some cases repetitive, ridiculous requirements we, as Congress, have put before folks.”
‘Cleaning out the underbrush’
Over the years, Congress has been too quick to add to agencies’ workload, he said. As circumstances and situations evolve, Congress isn’t shy about asking agencies to provide more data, he explained.
“But what we’re not very good at is ever going back through and cleaning out the underbrush of programs, regulations and — in this case what we’re focused — reporting requirements that outlived their usefulness,” he said.
The broader aim of the bill — as with GPRA modernization — is to help agencies further refine their policy goals and allow them enough time and resources to go about implementing them as opposed to being chained to strict reporting requirements.
But there’s nothing to stop Congress from continuing to pile on the requests for reports further down the road.
“My hope is what we’re doing is a good first step here by eliminating some of the burdensome activity that isn’t towards full mission,” he said.
Francis Rose is the host of In Depth, which airs weekdays from 8-10 a.m. on 1500 AM in the Washington, D.C. metro area and online everywhere. Francis has covered all three branches of the federal government as a broadcast journalist since 1998. He joined Federal News Radio in 2006, and launched In Depth in 2008 as a daily show focused on connecting federal executives to the information they need to do their jobs better.