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Federal Times: Bill requires agencies to provide detailed program data

By: Andy Medici

Agencies would have to provide detailed information and performance data for each of its programs, under legislation introduced by a bipartisan group of senators Jan. 28.

The Taxpayers Right to Know Act would require OMB to post detailed financial data for each program as well as the number of employees and contractors who administer each program. OMB would also have to post links to the latest performance reviews and metrics for the program.

Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., who introduced the bill, said it would give Americans a better understanding of how their taxes are spent, and help expose waste and improve accountability.

“”For too long, information about federal programs have hidden in $3.5 trillion budget line-items that most people never see,” Lankford said in a statement. “The American taxpayer deserves to know where their hard-earned tax dollars are being spent – this bill ensures that.”

The bill is also sponsored by senators Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., Ron Johnson, R-Wisc., Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., and John McCain, R-Ariz.

The legislation would also provide the public with the total amount of unspent and unobligated funds and grants held by agencies after its expiration date, and a list of specific statues that authorize each program.

“A transparent government is an effective government,” McCaskill said. “By forcing federal agencies to make public information on spending and performance, this bipartisan bill empowers taxpayers with the tools needed to keep government honest and accountable.”

The bill was previously introduced last year, where it passed the House and the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. But the full Senate never voted on it.