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Senators Lankford, Hassan, Johnson, Sinema, Ernst Introduce Taxpayers Right-To-Know Act

WASHINGTON, DC – Senators James Lankford (R-OK), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Ron Johnson (R-WI), Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), and Joni Ernst (R-IA) today introduced the bipartisan, bicameral Taxpayers Right-To-Know Act (S. 2177), which would require the federal government to make public the details, costs, and assessments related to every federal program. Currently, taxpayers send their hard-earned dollars to Washington and never really know how they are used, where they go, and the effectiveness of the programs they fund. The House companion version of the Taxpayers Right-to-Know Act was also introduced by Reps. Tim Walberg (R-MI) and Jim Cooper (D-TN). CLICK HERE for specific details about the bill.

“Accountability to the American taxpayers in Washington, DC, is in short supply,” said Lankford. “The Taxpayers Right-to-Know Act seeks to restore trust that taxpayer dollars sent to Washington are used efficiently and effectively. Our bill ensures Congress can provide thorough oversight of federal spending, help showcase good stewardship of tax dollars, and provide additional necessary details to root out duplication, inefficiency, and waste. This bill has been one of my top priorities for long-term transparency of otherwise opaque federal spending. Oklahomans need to know what Washington is doing with their money. This bill gives taxpayers, Congress, agency leaders, and watchdog organizations information in a central inventory. I look forward to full consideration of this bill in the House and Senate.”

“To cut wasteful spending and ensure taxpayer dollars are being used efficiently, we need to know exactly what the federal government is spending money on,” Hassan said. “By laying out both the costs of federal programs and their performance metrics, this bill gives us the critical information that we need to work on a bipartisan basis to advance fiscal responsibility.”

“Eliminating ineffective and duplicative government programs is a commonsense goal that Congress should diligently pursue,” said Johnson. “The Taxpayers Right-to-Know Act would provide transparency and tools to help eliminate wasteful spending.”

“Arizona taxpayers deserve to know how the government is spending their money. Our bill increases transparency and efficiency, ensuring Arizonans can hold their government accountable,” said Sinema.

“All too often taxpayer dollars go down a black hole at agencies across the federal government,” said Walberg. “Every dime that Michigan taxpayers send to Washington should be accounted for in a transparent way. Having this information at our fingertips provides an opportunity to evaluate and streamline programs, eliminate waste, and improve outcomes.”

As a major priority, Lankford has worked on legislation to ensure completion of a federal program inventory since 2011, his first year in Congress. During the 112th Congress, Lankford introduced the bill in December 2011 while former Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn carried the Senate companion bill the same year. During the 113th Congress, Lankford introduced the bill, and it passed the House unanimously. However, the Senate never fully considered it. In January of 2015, as a Senator, Lankford introduced a similar version, and the House unanimously passed its version of the bill, which was sponsored by Rep. Tim Walberg. Despite support from the Obama Administration, it never received a vote in the full Senate. In 2017, Lankford reintroduced the bill, and it once again passed the House unanimously but failed to receive full consideration in the Senate because it was blocked by one Senator.

Lankford is the Chairman of the Subcommittee on Regulatory Affairs and Federal Management within the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. The management of federal agencies and their workforce falls under Lankford’s Subcommittee jurisdiction. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has consistently identified that completing a federal program inventory is a top priority. Lankford participated in a Homeland Security Committee hearing in May 2019 to specifically discuss the Taxpayers Right-to-Know Act with GAO Comptroller Gene L. Dodaro, and the two discussed the need for a federal inventory.

Excerpts from GAO Hearing

Lankford: Is an inventory, a comprehensive inventory needed and what would that do to help your team be more efficient?

Gene L. Dodaro: It’s absolutely needed. it would greatly help us to have that inventory. It would short circuit our research. We could turn around things much more quickly if we had this inventory. It takes us literally months to identify the number of these programs across the government, and you have it only for a point in time. You don’t have it on an ongoing basis, so every time we have to go in and update it we have to go in and do it in a very onerous procedure.