CBO: House bill requiring detailed program inventories will cost $100M

Friday - 7/6/2012, 4:56pm EDT

A House bill designed to reduce government redundancy by requiring agencies to provide detailed reports about the programs they operate will cost about $100 million for agencies to implement, according to a Congressional Budget Office analysis.

The Taxpayers Right to Know Act, introduced by Rep. James Lankford (R-Okla.), would require agencies to publicly list each program they operate, including its costs and the number of staff it employs.

In its analysis, CBO noted that agencies are already required to "regularly produce" a number of reports detailing budget priorities and strategic plans. For example, the 2010 modernization to the Government Performance and Results Act required agencies to produce a "full list of agency programs."

The Office of Management and Budget in January rolled out a pilot project to several commerce and trade-related agencies to develop program inventories.

The bill woud "codify or only slightly modify" current requirements for reporting programs, CBO stated.

But the bill expands the programs and services subject to reporting requirements and mandates that agencies provide a higher level of detail about them.

The federal government lists more than 2,200 programs and services on its Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance. Lankford's bill would apply not only to those progams but to "any government service, process, grant, contract, cooperative expensee, compact, loan lease or agency guidance" as well.

Because of the expanded reporting requirements, implementing the bill would cost about $100 million between 2013 and 2017, CBO concluded.

In a statement provided by Lankford's office, the congressman said he was still reviewing CBO's cost estimates and that he would work to develop offsets "to ensure the bill is revenue neutral when it moves to the floor."

Lankford added: "Regardless of CBO's 'score,' the bill will ultimately save taxpayers billions of dollars by eliminating waste and duplication by requiring each federal agency to send Congress information about each program they administer. Taxpayers' Right to Know will increase transparency on federal programs by finally shedding light on the rampant duplication in Washington, ultimately reducing the financial burden on taxpayers."

Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) has introduced a similar measure in the Senate.

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