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house Bill H.R. 27

Should Federal Agencies’ Legal Settlements be Posted Online?

Argument in favor

As a matter of transparency, information about federal agencies’ settlements should be available online. This would bolster accountability, ensure that interested parties can find this information, and serve to organize this information in a central repository.

Kathi's Opinion
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01/05/2021
The more transparency the better. Taxpayers deserve to know how their money is being spent.
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Sandra's Opinion
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01/05/2021
Very few good things are done "in the dark" and this "administration" in particular reminds us of just how close an eye WE must keep on representatives.
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Argument opposed

The two sources of funds for paying federal agencies’ settlements — the Judgement Fund and agencies’ respective budgets — are publicly available, so interested parties can already find agency settlement information if they know where to look.

Janice's Opinion
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01/09/2021
I accidentally voted no, but, meant yes. I believe in transparency. Cyber space is an effective and cost saving way to communicate these things!
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Robert's Opinion
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01/05/2021
I believe some things are too important to be posted for every terrorist to see.
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What is House Bill H.R. 27?

This bill would require the publication of settlement agreements that executive agencies enter into. The text of these agreements would be posted online, with a copy of the agreement, the names of the parties involved, a description of the claims settled, the amount to be paid and to whom it was paid, the length of the agreement, and how the agreement came about. Additionally, federal agencies would be required to report on any confidentiality agreements and the reasoning for that arrangement.

Impact

Settlements; federal agencies; and parties in settlement agreements.

Cost of House Bill H.R. 27

$0.00
When this bill was introduced in the 115th Congress, the CBO estimated that enacting it wouldn’t have a significant effect on the federal budget because most of the required information is already collected during the settlement process, and the cost of making it available online wouldn’t be significant.

More Information

In-Depth: Rep. Gary Palmer (R-AL) reintroduced this bill from the 116th Congress to promote transparency about settlements paid out by the federal government. When he introduced this legislation in the 116th Congress, he said:

“Currently, there is no uniform standard for recordkeeping across federal agencies. Most of the public’s access to federal settlement agreement information is primarily issued by press release. This lack of transparency frequently leaves the public and elected officials in the dark about costs and outcomes. The SAID Act would provide overdue transparency and accountability standards to federal settlement agreements.”

A federal fund run out of the Treasury Dept., known as the Judgment Fund, distributes billions annually — including over $4.3 billion in FY 2016, the most recent year for which data is available — to pay financial judgments and awards against the U.S. government on a range of issues. However, while Treasury publishes a yearly report to Congress listing hundreds of payments made through the fund, the report doesn’t include detailed information about the precise reason for each payment.

Additionally, while the Judgment Fund’s payments are publicly searchable on the Treasury website, it isn’t the only source of funds to pay settlements, as agencies may only ask for payment from the Judgment Fund if funds aren’t available from their own appropriations. As a result, any judgments agencies pay for using their appropriations aren’t included in the Judgment Fund’s records.

Republicans have attacked the Judgment Fund as an “unchecked slush fund,” especially after the Obama administration suggested it could be used to make payments promised to insurers under Obamacare after Republicans moved to stop the money from coming out of the Dept. of Health and Human Services (DHS) budget.

This bill has three cosponsors, including two Democrats and one Republican, in the 117th Congress. had one cosponsor, Rep. Van Taylor (R-TX), in the 116th Congress, where it passed the House by a 418-0 vote. In the 115th Congress,, this bill passed the House by voice vote without any cosponsors.


Media:

Summary by Lorelei Yang

(Photo Credit: iStockphoto.com / alfexe)

AKA

Settlement Agreement Information Database Act of 2021

Official Title

To amend chapter 3 of title 5, United States Code, to require the publication of settlement agreements, and for other purposes.

bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate has not voted
      senate Committees
      Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs
  • The house has not voted
      house Committees
      Committee on Oversight and Reform
    IntroducedJanuary 4th, 2021