Senator Lankford Introduces Taxpayers Right To Know Act

WASHINGTON, DC— Senator James Lankford (R-OK) today introduced the Taxpayers Right To Know Act in the U.S. Senate, a bill that would provide the American people with a better understanding of how their tax dollars are spent. This bipartisan bill shines a light on the details, costs, and performance metrics of every federal program.

As a U.S. Representative, Lankford introduced the bipartisan bill last Congress. It passed the House last February (H.R. 1423) by voice vote, and was cleared by the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. However, then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid did not bring the bill up for a vote before the full Senate.

“The Taxpayers Right To Know Act would expose government waste and improve federal accountability,” said Lankford. “For too long, information about federal programs have hidden in $3.5 trillion budget line-items that most people never see. The nonpartisan Government Accountability Office annually identifies tens of billions of dollars in duplication, but still lacks the tools to best eliminate the overlap. The American taxpayer deserves to know where their hard-earned tax dollars are being spent – this bill ensures that.”

As the recently named Chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Subcommittee on Regulatory Affairs and Federal Management, Lankford intends to help usher the bill through Committee and to the Senate for a vote.

Senate co-sponsors include: Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), Senator Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI), Senator Mike Enzi (R-WY) and Senator John McCain (R-AZ).

“In North Dakota, we know how to be prudent with money because we don’t take what we have for granted. Those are the values I learned as a kid in a big family from a small town in North Dakota, and they’re the values I took with me to Washington,” said Heitkamp, who is Ranking Member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Subcommittee on Regulatory Affairs and Federal Management. “Making sure our government stays accountable to hardworking families will always be a top priority for me, and we can do that by conducting responsible oversight over the way taxpayer dollars are spent. This legislation will promote transparency in government, shine a light on redundant spending, and bring the practical economic values of North Dakota families to Washington and the federal government.”

Specifically, this bill would create a central database for financial data and performance metrics for every federal program, requiring every federal agency to provide taxpayers an annual report card for all of its programs. Under current federal law, the Office of Management and Budget is required to post an inventory of all federal programs on a centralized website. This legislation builds upon this requirement, and directs the OMB to post:

  • More detailed financial information for each program;
  • An estimate of the number of full-time equivalents who administer each program;
  • An estimate of the number of beneficiaries who receive assistance from each program;
  • Links to the latest performance reviews for the program, including the metrics used to review the program;
  • The total amount of unspent and unobligated grant funds held by agencies held after the grant’s expiration; and
  • A list of the specific statute that authorizes each program and any related regulations.