Office of Rep. Derek Kilmer announcement.
On Dec. 13, U.S. Representative Derek Kilmer (WA-06) announced that the House of Representatives passed his bipartisan Improving Government for America’s Taxpayers Act as part of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2023. The legislation aims to drive better implementation of recommendations from the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) to help improve government efficiency and save taxpayers more money. The bill now heads to the Senate for consideration.
“This bill is about making government work better and saving taxpayers’ money. The Government Accountability Office works tirelessly to identify areas to improve efficiency and save money. Last year they found 112 additional actions that could make a difference for taxpayers, but that only happens if Congress acts on those recommendations,” said Rep. Kilmer, who serves as Chair of the House Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress (Modernization Committee). “That’s why I’m proud that the House approved this bipartisan legislation to streamline the process and get government working better for folks.”
The GAO provides Congress, the heads of executive agencies, and the public with fact-based, non-partisan information that can be used to improve government and save taxpayers billions of dollars. In 2020, GAO’s work generated over $77 billion in benefits for Congress and the American people – a return of about $114 for every dollar invested in the GAO. The GAO’s 2021 Duplication and Cost Savings Report identified 112 new actions that Congress and executive branch agencies could take to save money and improve the efficiency and effectiveness of government programs and activities. Despite this, GAO priority recommendations often fail to see action by Congress or relevant agencies.
In 2021, as part of its work to improve government efficiency and transparency, the Modernization Committee examined opportunities to strengthen government oversight – and, on a bipartisan basis, put forth recommendations to improve congressional support agencies. Regarding the GAO, the Modernization Committee recommended that: “GAO should annually report to Congress on legislative options to address open priority recommendations.”
Building off this recommendation, the Improving Government for America’s Taxpayers Act aims to improve Congress’ ability to act on GAO recommendations. Specifically, the bill directs the GAO to:
- Consolidate open priority recommendations in one succinct report to be addressed to Congressional Leadership and relevant committees organized by topic;
- Include in this report the amount of time a priority recommendation has been open for;
- Include the estimated costs concerning unimplemented priority recommendations and anticipated cost-savings, upon implementation;
- Identify any additional Congressional oversight actions that can help agencies implement open priority recommendations and address any underlying issues, as part of its annual reporting to agency heads and relevant Congressional Committees; and,
- Publish the above items publicly.
The Improving Government for America’s Taxpayers Act is co-sponsored by Modernization Committee Vice Chair William Timmons, House Oversight Committee Chairwoman Carolyn B. Maloney, House Oversight Committee Ranking Member James Comer, House Oversight Subcommittee on Government Operations Chairman Gerald E. Connolly, and U.S. Representatives Nancy Mace, Raja Krishnamoorthi, Ralph Norman, Katie Porter, Daniel Webster, Jake Auchincloss, and John Rutherford. A companion bill was introduced in the Senate by U.S. Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Gary Peters (D-MI).
“The Improving Government for America’s Taxpayers Act is proof positive that non-partisan, good government legislation is still possible,” said Rep. Timmons, who serves as Vice Chair of the Modernization Committee. “I am proud to lead this bill alongside Rep. Kilmer and look forward to seeing it signed into law to improve the federal government as a whole while saving countless taxpayer dollars.”
“I deeply value GAO’s contributions to oversight of the federal government through its rigorous analysis and recommendations to enhance government and save taxpayer dollars,” said Chairwoman Maloney. “This bill would draw much-needed attention to matters where Congress and federal agencies must take action to ensure a more effective and efficient government for American taxpayers.”
“The work GAO does strengthens Congressional oversight work and legislative efforts to improve federal programs. This bill will help raise the profile of GAO recommendations for Congress and make them a more available resource for the legislative branch as we work to make government more responsive and effective,” said Chairman Connolly.
“Few Americans approve of the work Congress is doing, and that’s a clear sign we need to innovate,” said Rep. Porter. “The Government Accountability Office is constantly identifying how Congress can make federal agencies more efficient, but their suggestions are too often overlooked. Our legislation will make it easier for Congress to implement the GAO’s recommendations, save taxpayer dollars, and restore confidence in our government.”
The legislation is supported by the Lincoln Network, Demand Progress, Issue One, the Partnership for Public Service, and the Project on Government Oversight.
“The Improving Government for America’s Taxpayers Act will save taxpayers billions of dollars annually and make the federal government work better on behalf of the American people by leveraging the Government Accountability Office’s nonpartisan oversight. Since 2000, GAO’s recommendations have resulted in more than $1 trillion in financial benefits for the government. But federal departments and agencies often take years to answer these watchdog recommendations to make federal programs work better. There are currently more than 4,600 open recommendations,” said Dan Lips, Head of Policy, Lincoln Network. “By requiring GAO to report to Congress how long recommendations have been open and what taxpayers could save if they were implemented, the Improving Government for America’s Taxpayers Act will help Congress hold federal agencies accountable and save billions of dollars annually.
“Rep. Kilmer’s ‘Improving Government for America’s Taxpayers Act’ gives teeth to Government Accountability Office recommendations to clean up waste, fraud, and abuse at federal agencies,” said Demand Progress Policy Director Daniel Schuman. “The IG Act will create a consolidated, public list of GAO recommendations to agencies, a cost estimate for their enactment, and track the lag time between the issuance of GAO recommendations and agency action.”
“One of Congress’ most important duties is to ensure that federal agencies and programs are efficiently managed and effectively serving the public,” said Max Stier, President and CEO of the Partnership for Public Service. “The bipartisan Improving Government for America’s Taxpayers Act will help Congress focus on areas in need of oversight and keep track of GAO’s vital recommendations to make government work better. The Partnership for Public Service applauds Reps. Kilmer, Timmons, Maloney, Comer, and Connolly for introducing this legislation to improve the capacity of Congress to perform its essential oversight role. We are pleased to see the recommendations of the Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress lead to a more effective Congress.”
“The Improving Government for America’s Taxpayers Act will better equip Congress with the information it needs to do oversight of the federal government,” said Tim Stretton, Director of the Congressional Oversight Initiative at the Project on Government Oversight (POGO). “POGO applauds Chair Kilmer and Ranking Member Timmons for introducing this critically important piece of legislation, and their continued efforts on the Select Committee on Modernization to make Congress more effective, efficient, and transparent on behalf of the American people.”