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house Bill H.R. 3830

Should All Federal Programs Be Publicly Inventoried Online With Information About Their Cost & Performance?

Argument in favor

As the federal government’s primary funders, taxpayers deserve to know how the government spends their money. The reports required by this bill would give taxpayers more information about what their hard-earned tax dollars are being used for, and would also help identify inefficiencies in the federal government to improve coordination and eliminate duplication across various agencies.

Leslie's Opinion
···
02/05/2020
How could you not have this information for the budget process? Seems like it has bipartisan support as well as GAO! If course there may need to be some limitations when it comes to security.
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WilliamTR's Opinion
···
02/05/2020
Transparency seems like a great way to minimize the growing distrust the public has for our government.
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Kayla's Opinion
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02/05/2020
Transparency leads to accountability. The taxpayers should see the impact of the programs we help fund.
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Argument opposed

The reporting requirements that this bill would impose would significantly increase federal agencies’ workloads, which could both take resources away from each agency’s actual work and require agencies to increase spending to meet the reporting requirements. Additionally, the information that this bill would generate could be used to slash programs that people rely on.

jimK's Opinion
···
02/05/2020
This sounds good on the surface but only focuses on the short term aspects and not long term benefits and is way too easy to weaponize. If for example, I choose to pay $6000.00 a year in long term health care insurance benefits to cover costs of care for catastrophic injury or disease and do not need to use these benefits for three or even five years, is it a waste of resources to have made this investment? Maybe it is for some who have a strong extended family support system, but not for all. The point is, that our country needs to have sustained long-term investments to address long-term needs such as dealing with the Climate Crisis, major infrastructure needs, addressing societal issues arising from changing economic drivers like the impacts of new technologies or the need to reduce dependence on fossil fuels. None of these would have a quantifiable three year ROI, but all of these are needed long-term commitments. What Congress needs to do is to operate at a higher and more strategic level to focus on and consider long-term benefits and unintended consequences - and just stop legislating by scattershot little nits and bits that are often redundant and most often used for political election year ‘creds’, fooling the public with great titles while the details do the opposite of the title, and feel-good nice to have knee jerk reactions. Fund Agencies broadly to conduct broad programs and hold them accountable for the details through subcommittee oversight. In our over litigious society, we need to stop legislating every little detail, and empower Congress to determine whether an Agency is honoring the intent of the higher level legislation and withhold funding, if needed. With every detail legislated, any detail that is not specifically spelled out becomes a legal loophole since, as we have seen, if it is not specifically illegal it is often presumed to be OK, despite the intentions of the original overriding legislation. Provide oversight of the broad programs assigned to agencies and make informed judgements of overall progress and the continued viability of long-term goals. Yes, this is harder to do than just checking off line items on a spread sheet, but it absolutely should be. Why else should it even be elevated to Congressional oversight?
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burrkitty's Opinion
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02/05/2020
Don’t trust this. Will it include DOD? DOD is the department that needs the most heavy budget cuts. How will you audit them? Will you finally kill the F-35 program? There is 5 BILLION DOLLARS a year wasted there on a functionally inoperable fighter jet.
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larubia's Opinion
···
02/05/2020
Tim Walberg, the Republican from Michigan, has sponsored this bill. He votes against the Affordable Health Care Act every chance that he gets. When it comes to issues on global warming, he comments “God has this under control.” I don’t trust anything he puts forward. If he really wanted transparency he would have asked for tRump’s taxes or at least demanded firsthand witnesses & documents in the impeachment trial. No!!!
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What is House Bill H.R. 3830?

This bill — the Taxpayers Right-to-Know Act — would require the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to publish an online inventory of each agency’s federal programs. This inventory would also provide a description of each program and identify information about its performance and costs.

In full, the program inventory would identify each program’s:

  • Administrative budget and fund allocation for three fiscal years,
  • Total appropriation amount, obligation, and outlay for services,
  • Intended population that it serves,
  • Performance reviews, including any Inspector General or Government Accountability Office (GAO) reports,
  • The authorizing statute(s) and any major rules or regulations related to the program, and
  • Other information intended to increase transparency to taxpayers, if applicable.

Impact

The general public, federal program administrators, federal agencies, their employees, the people they serve, and the OMB.

Cost of House Bill H.R. 3830

$10.00 Million
The CBO estimates that this legislation would cost $10 million to implement over the 2020-2024 period.

More Information

In-DepthSponsoring Rep. Tim Walberg (R-MI) introduced this legislation to give American taxpayers a better understanding of how their tax dollars are spent:

“All too often taxpayer dollars go down a black hole at agencies across the federal government. Every dime that Michigan taxpayers send to Washington should be accounted for in a transparent way. Having this information at our fingertips provides an opportunity to evaluate and streamline programs, eliminate waste, and improve outcomes.”

Sen. James Lankford (R-OK), who has been working on this legislation since coming to Congress in 2011, is the sponsor of this bill’s Senate companion. He adds

“Accountability to the American taxpayers in Washington, DC, is in short supply. The Taxpayers Right-to-Know Act seeks to restore trust that taxpayer dollars sent to Washington are used efficiently and effectively. Our bill ensures Congress can provide thorough oversight of federal spending, help showcase good stewardship of tax dollars, and provide additional necessary details to root out duplication, inefficiency, and waste. This bill has been one of my top priorities for long-term transparency of otherwise opaque federal spending. Oklahomans need to know what Washington is doing with their money. This bill gives taxpayers, Congress, agency leaders, and watchdog organizations information in a central inventory. I look forward to full consideration of this bill in the House and Senate.”

Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-NH), lead Democratic sponsor of this bill’s Senate companion, expressed her support during its July 2019 committee markup:

“I’m really encouraged by this committee’s willingness to take up and pass common sense reforms to make the federal government run more efficiently and save taxpayer dollars and that we’re doing it in a bipartisan way.”

The Blue Dog Coalition — an alliance of Democrats that believes in fiscal responsibility in the form of relatively limited government spending — supports this legislation. In October 2019, its co-chair for communications, Rep. Lou Correa (D-CA), said:

“The American people deserve to know how their taxpayer dollars are being spent. In order to start getting our fiscal house in order, we must ensure Congress can better provide strong oversight on federal spending. This commonsense, bipartisan legislation provides critical information that Congress needs in order to identify and eliminate duplication, inefficiency, and waste.”

Government Accountability Office (GAO) Comptroller Gene Dodaro — who believes that his agency doesn’t currently have enough information to make the best possible recommendations for making spending as efficient as possible — expressed support for this legislation in 2018.

Senate Democratic leadership has opposed this legislation since the Obama years. In 2013, then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) objected to this legislation. In 2016, this legislation was blocked again. 

Most recently, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) objected to this legislation in the 115th Congress, citing a “serious objection with the reporting requirements.” He argued that reporting on programs, costs, and performance wouldn’t make it any easier to discern what programs are and aren’t working, suggesting that this bill would only add to agencies’ workloads and reporting requirements without making them more effective. Sen. Schumer also raised concerns that the information produced by this legislation could lead to the “slashing of programs.”

This bill has six bipartisan House cosponsors, including four Democrats and two Republicans. Its Senate companion, sponsored by Sen. James Lankford (R-OK), passed the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs with the support of 10 bipartisan Senate cosponsors, including seven Republicans and three Democrats.

In the 115th Congress, this bill had 24 bipartisan House cosponsors, including 21 Republicans and three Democrats, and passed the House by voice vote but didn’t receive a Senate vote. Its Senate companion, sponsored by Sen. Lankford, passed the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs with the support of 11 bipartisan Senate cosponsors, including seven Republicans and four Democrats.


Media:

Summary by Lorelei Yang

(Photo Credit: iStockphoto.com / AdShooter)

AKA

Taxpayers Right-To-Know Act

Official Title

To provide taxpayers with an improved understanding of Government programs through the disclosure of cost, performance, and areas of duplication among them, leverage existing data to achieve a functional Federal program inventory, and for other purposes.

bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate has not voted
  • The house has not voted
    IntroducedJuly 18th, 2019
    How could you not have this information for the budget process? Seems like it has bipartisan support as well as GAO! If course there may need to be some limitations when it comes to security.
    Like (36)
    Follow
    Share
    This sounds good on the surface but only focuses on the short term aspects and not long term benefits and is way too easy to weaponize. If for example, I choose to pay $6000.00 a year in long term health care insurance benefits to cover costs of care for catastrophic injury or disease and do not need to use these benefits for three or even five years, is it a waste of resources to have made this investment? Maybe it is for some who have a strong extended family support system, but not for all. The point is, that our country needs to have sustained long-term investments to address long-term needs such as dealing with the Climate Crisis, major infrastructure needs, addressing societal issues arising from changing economic drivers like the impacts of new technologies or the need to reduce dependence on fossil fuels. None of these would have a quantifiable three year ROI, but all of these are needed long-term commitments. What Congress needs to do is to operate at a higher and more strategic level to focus on and consider long-term benefits and unintended consequences - and just stop legislating by scattershot little nits and bits that are often redundant and most often used for political election year ‘creds’, fooling the public with great titles while the details do the opposite of the title, and feel-good nice to have knee jerk reactions. Fund Agencies broadly to conduct broad programs and hold them accountable for the details through subcommittee oversight. In our over litigious society, we need to stop legislating every little detail, and empower Congress to determine whether an Agency is honoring the intent of the higher level legislation and withhold funding, if needed. With every detail legislated, any detail that is not specifically spelled out becomes a legal loophole since, as we have seen, if it is not specifically illegal it is often presumed to be OK, despite the intentions of the original overriding legislation. Provide oversight of the broad programs assigned to agencies and make informed judgements of overall progress and the continued viability of long-term goals. Yes, this is harder to do than just checking off line items on a spread sheet, but it absolutely should be. Why else should it even be elevated to Congressional oversight?
    Like (59)
    Follow
    Share
    Don’t trust this. Will it include DOD? DOD is the department that needs the most heavy budget cuts. How will you audit them? Will you finally kill the F-35 program? There is 5 BILLION DOLLARS a year wasted there on a functionally inoperable fighter jet.
    Like (31)
    Follow
    Share
    Transparency seems like a great way to minimize the growing distrust the public has for our government.
    Like (21)
    Follow
    Share
    Tim Walberg, the Republican from Michigan, has sponsored this bill. He votes against the Affordable Health Care Act every chance that he gets. When it comes to issues on global warming, he comments “God has this under control.” I don’t trust anything he puts forward. If he really wanted transparency he would have asked for tRump’s taxes or at least demanded firsthand witnesses & documents in the impeachment trial. No!!!
    Like (21)
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    Share
    Sounds to me like this is a way to figure out where money is going so that Trump can STEAL to put in his pocket OR use on that stupid damn wall.
    Like (19)
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    It’s nice to know what Departments and Agencies do and whether their wasteful, efficient and effective. What do we have Senators and House Representatives for if not for the management and “oversight” of the different arms of government. That is why elections should not be reality TV and “we the people” should do more than believe sound bites and look for feel good entertainment. This is the job of the various government committees. OMB should be making reports to them and Congress should act on those reports. We now have a President and Republicans in Congress who are actively destroying the structures within the Federal Government which provides protection for our society, economy and our environment. The President, Republican Party and citizens have applauded while it’s being done. I have helped compile the data that goes into some of these reports. It’s complex, it require in-depth knowledge of the agency’s or department’s activities, it’s requirements, applicable laws and the publics needs. I could read and study the data/statistics but it would take years to develop the expertise to make valuable decisions. Isn’t that what these elected officials are suppose to do? Running the federal government was divided between the Office of the President, Senate and House of Representatives and the Judiciary. The real problem that we have is that for years Congress has been turned aristocratic occupation and Congressional members have avoided making decisions for fear of drawing the ire of their constituents and losing their “career”. Prior to six years ago the Judiciary Branch has waxed and waned neither being overly liberal nor conservative and was considered to be equitable in judgement. Now the Judiciary is becoming as polarized as the citizenry. Today President is leading the devolution of the Branches of the Federal Government. He is assuming the allocation of tax dollars arbitrarily using Executive Orders to manipulate laws, regulations and procedures. To put it simply he’s assume all the authority and responsibilities of the other to Branches of Government. Do we need more details from OMB, NO. We need each Branch of the Federal Government (Executive, Legislative and the Judiciary) to be able to do their jobs with oversight and without undue interference from The Office of the (any) President. We must do our job as well and vote wisely and with first hand knowledge(look things up for yourself).
    Like (18)
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    Transparency leads to accountability. The taxpayers should see the impact of the programs we help fund.
    Like (15)
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    Nice idea, but Congress already spent Our Money on things to profit their donors. Our Nation is in debt, and foolishly using deficit spending. Look for programs to cu, not to add to Our Debt.
    Like (12)
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    Sounds like a great idea but worried about how you would use this to harm. If you know anything about long term expenditures this law would not be good for this area. Frankly, if you cannot see how bad tRump is I cannot support this without some real teeth put on the law.
    Like (9)
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    We the people have the RIGHT to know whether we agree or not.
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    This is similar to the short term view of shareholder value too many corporations take. In the corporate world, this has led to many stakeholders being short changed at the expense of shareholders. It would have a similar impact on government spending, with adverse impacts on climate change, poverty, and foreign policy. To stay a great country we must care about the long term consequences f our policy.
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    No. This could be classified stuff and make the programs vulnerable to cyber attacks amongst other things.
    Like (8)
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    Another Repugnacant attempt to slash social programs while giving huge, indefensible tax breaks to the wealthy and big businesses and bloating the military budget.
    Like (8)
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    I have listened to both sides of the argument. There would not have been a problem if our president hadn’t committed this offense. While we are all discussing this situation, this president feels no remorse in what he has done. I am sure when he was elected president, those voting for did not think he would do any thing like this. This president has few that stand up to him in his party. I did not vote for him but felt the checks and balances of our government would keep him within the constitution and laws of our land. I have no problem voting either party but it will take a long time before I can look at the Republican Party again. The only Republican I can look to at this time might be Mitt Romney. He seems to look at the whole picture not just by party affiliations. Sad to say that our president will have total control with no checks an balances that our fore fathers before us fought so hard for. This president will do What he can personally benefit from. He has handed over power to Russia in Syria and Has kept us in turmoil with Iran and even our allies. Republican Party can’t you find someone else in your party to run for this election that has tact, integrity and a true love to do what is right for our country.
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    Thanks for the laugh! People on this thread advocating for all the benefits of “transparency” are the same ones who think Herr Grabbenfuerer doesn’t need to allow his staff to testify, his records to be subpoenaed, to testify himself, or to release his taxes. Hilarious!
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    Can’t have everything for public eyes to see. Somethings are kept better private. Less security risk
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    The idea is actually a good one, but the way information could be used to make unnecessary cuts while further funding things we don’t nee (walls, a bloated military, the impeached president’s golf trips, etc.) means I’d vote No.
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    The government needs to be held accountable for how it’s spending our money.
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    Wahlberg and Langford have it backwards. As written, this bill is a disaster, is obviously partisan, and aimed specifically at programs intended to support the poor, disabled, and elderly. A better option would be to go to a zero-based budgeting system. It will have the same effect and do a better job at eliminating waste.
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