The Edmond Sun

July 25, 2013

Lankford pushes for funding transparency

James Coburn
The Edmond Sun

EDMOND — A congressional House bill to require all federal agencies to provide taxpayers an annual report card for their programs was sent by committee to the House floor this week.

“The federal government cannot produce a list of all the programs, the cost of the programs and the metrics to evaluate the programs. That is absurd,” said Rep. James Lankford, R-Edmond.

The Taxpayers Right-To-Know Act mandates that every government program shall be identified and described, said Lankford, author of House Resolution 1423. Recommendations for improving efficiency would accompany the report cards, posted online, to reveal federal duplication and waste.

The Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance lists 2,179 federal assistance programs available to state and local governments.

“This represents only one component of all government programs,” Lankford said. “Foreign aid programs and programs that provide services other than financial assistance, for example, are omitted from the catalogue.”

Lankford has proposed the elimination of the Department of Environmental Equality, by stating its reports duplicate that of the Environmental Protection Agency. Americans expect their government to be accountable when spending taxpayers’ hard-earned dollars, said Lankford, a member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

Most people don’t know what agencies do, Lankford said. So it is vital that Washington be transparent as the nation approaches a $17 trillion debt, he said.

Beltway politics and power struggles have prevented meaningful consolidation, President Barack Obama said this week in a speech to the nation.

The federal government wastes money, hinders business growth, damages the economy by creating countless regulations and sending regulators all across the U.S. to inspect what somebody already knows how to do, Lankford said.

The Taxpayers Right to Know Act would provide the total:

• Administrative costs of the program;

• Expenditures for services;

• Number of beneficiaries who receive assistance from the program; and

• An estimate of the number of staff who administer the program, including contractor staff.

It also would include:

• A listing of other programs within the federal government with duplicative or overlapping missions and services;

• The latest performance reviews for the program, including the metrics used to review the program;

• The latest improper payment rate for the program, including fraudulent payments; and

• The total amount of unspent and unobligated program funds held by the agency and grant recipients.

• A new GAO database that continually catalogs, tracks and updates the status of all programs identified by the annual report on program duplication, overlap and fragmentation. | 341-2121