Senators Lankford, Fischer Reintroduce Bill to Bring Transparency to Unfunded Mandates

WASHINGTON, DC – Senators James Lankford (R-OK) and Deb Fischer (R-NE) today introduced The Unfunded Mandates Information and Transparency Act. The legislation addresses loopholes that allow federal agencies to impose mandates on state and local governments—as well as the private sector—without providing a transparent accounting of costs.

“Expensive, hidden costs from regulators continue to force American families to pay more for goods and services,” said Lankford. “The Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995 was a step in the right direction to address issues with federal agencies from imposing unidentified costs to state and local governments, but it did not go far enough to hold every federal agency accountable or seek further input when considering new mandates. It is time to finish the process Congress intended two decades ago and close the loopholes. I urge Congress to address this issue with an easy, commonsense solution to protect Americans from higher costs and taxes.” 

The Unfunded Mandates Information and Transparency Act updates the nearly-two-decade-old law enacted to prevent the spread of unfunded federal mandates. The bill seeks to increase accountability by requiring agencies to perform cost analysis and updating the accounting structure to include other undocumented costs to consumers. 

In 1995, The Unfunded Mandates Reform Act (UMRA) was signed into law by President Bill Clinton. This original version was designed to prevent the spread of unfunded federal mandates by establishing reporting requirements on the cost of mandates. Since that time, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) has identified at least 14 loopholes that permit an agency to avoid UMRA analysis requirements. 

Bringing more transparency to government agencies has been a priority to Lankford. Lankford listed this reform in his 2015 government waste report entitled, Federal Fumbles: 100 ways the government dropped the ball on page 54. Lankford and Fischer introduced this bill in January 2015.