03.31.22

Kilmer, Timmons Lead Bipartisan Legislation to Improve Federal Government Efficiency, Save Taxpayers Money

Washington, DC – Today, U.S. Representatives Derek Kilmer (WA-06) and William Timmons (SC-04) introduced the Improving Government for America’s Taxpayers Act ­– bipartisan legislation aimed at driving better implementation of recommendations from the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) to help improve government efficiency and save taxpayers more money.

The legislation is co-sponsored by House Oversight Committee Chairwoman Carolyn B. Maloney, House Oversight Committee Ranking Member James Comer, House Oversight Subcommittee on Government Operations Chairman Gerald E. Connolly, and U.S. Representatives Nancy Mace, Raja Krishnamoorthi, Ralph Norman, Katie Porter, Daniel Webster, Jake Auchincloss, and John Rutherford.

GAO provides Congress, the heads of executive agencies, and the public with fact-based, non-partisan information that can be used to improve government and save taxpayers billions of dollars. In 2020, GAO’s work generated over $77 billion in benefits for Congress and the American people—a return of about $114 for every dollar invest in GAO.

Despite this, the reports GAO publishes with priority recommendations often fail to see action by Congress or relevant agencies. GAO’s 2021 Duplication and Cost Savings Report identified 112 new actions that Congress and executive branch agencies could take to save money and improve efficiency and effectiveness of government programs and activities.

In 2021, as part of its work to improve government efficiency and transparency, the House Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress (Modernization Committee) examined opportunities to strengthen government oversight – and on a bipartisan basis put forth recommendations to improve congressional support agencies. Regarding GAO, the Modernization Committee recommended that: “GAO should annually report to Congress on legislative options to address open priority recommendations.”

Building off this recommendation, the Improving Government for America’s Taxpayers Act aims to improve Congress’ ability to act on GAO recommendations. Specifically, the bill directs GAO to:

  • Consolidate open priority recommendations in one succinct report to be addressed to Congressional Leadership and relevant committees organized by topic;
  • Include in this report the amount of time a priority recommendation has been open for;
  • Include the estimated costs concerning unimplemented priority recommendations and anticipated cost-savings, upon implementation;
  • Identify any additional Congressional oversight actions that can help agencies implement open priority recommendations and address any underlying issues, as part of its annual reporting to agency heads and relevant Congressional Committees; and,
  • Publish the above items publicly.

 “This bill is about making government work better and saving taxpayers’ money. The Government Accountability Office works tirelessly to identify areas to improve efficiency and save money. In fact, just this past year they found 112 additional actions that could make a difference for taxpayers. But that will only happen if Congress acts on those recommendations,” said Rep. Kilmer, who serves as the Chairman of the Modernization Committee. “That’s why we’ve introduced this bipartisan legislation to streamline the process and get government working better for folks. I’m grateful for the support of Modernization Committee Vice Chair Timmons, Oversight Committee Chairwoman Maloney and Ranking Member Comer, Subcommittee on Government Operations Chairman Connolly, and others.”

“With the introduction of The Improving Government for America’s taxpayer Act, Rep. Kilmer and I are excited to show the importance of non-partisan, good government legislation. It is still possible. I also want to thank Chair Maloney and Ranking Member Comer for joining us in this effort,” said Rep. Timmons, who serves as Vice Chairman of the Modernization Committee.

“I deeply value GAO’s contributions to oversight of the federal government through its rigorous analysis and recommendations to enhance government and save taxpayer dollars,” said Chairwoman Maloney. “This bill would draw much-needed attention to matters where Congress and federal agencies must take action to ensure a more effective and efficient government for American taxpayers.”

“The work GAO does strengthens Congressional oversight work and legislative efforts to improve federal programs. This bill will help raise the profile of GAO recommendations for Congress and make them a more available resource for the legislative branch as we work to make government more responsive and effective,” said Chairman Connolly.

“Few Americans approve of the work Congress is doing, and that's a clear sign we need to innovate,” said Rep. Porter. “The Government Accountability Office is constantly identifying how Congress can make federal agencies more efficient, but their suggestions are too often overlooked. Our legislation will make it easier for Congress to implement the GAO's recommendations, save taxpayer dollars, and restore confidence in our government.”

The legislation is supported by the Lincoln Network, Demand Progress, Issue One, the Partnership for Public Service, and the Project On Government Oversight.

“The Improving Government for America’s Taxpayers Act will save taxpayers billions of dollars annually and make the federal government work better on behalf of the American people by leveraging the Government Accountability Office’s nonpartisan oversight. Since 2000, GAO’s recommendations have resulted in more than $1 trillion in financial benefits for the government. But federal departments and agencies often take years to answer these watchdog recommendations to make federal programs work better. There are currently more than 4,600 open recommendations,” said Dan Lips, Head of Policy, Lincoln Network. “By requiring GAO to report to Congress how long recommendations have been open and what taxpayers could save if they were implemented, the Improving Government for America’s Taxpayers Act will help Congress hold federal agencies accountable and save billions of dollars annually.

“Rep. Kilmer’s ‘Improving Government for America’s Taxpayers Act’ gives teeth to Government Accountability Office recommendations to clean up waste, fraud, and abuse at federal agencies,” said Demand Progress Policy Director Daniel Schuman. “The IG Act will create a consolidated, public list of GAO recommendations to agencies, a cost estimate for their enactment, and track the lag time between the issuance of GAO recommendations and agency action.”

“One of Congress’ most important duties is to ensure that federal agencies and programs are efficiently managed and effectively serving the public,” said Max Stier, president and CEO of the Partnership for Public Service. “The bipartisan Improving Government for America’s Taxpayers Act will help Congress focus on areas in need of oversight and keep track of GAO’s vital recommendations to make government work better. The Partnership for Public Service applauds Reps. Kilmer, Timmons, Maloney, Comer, and Connolly for introducing this legislation to improve the capacity of Congress to perform its essential oversight role. We are pleased to see the recommendations of the Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress lead to a more effective Congress.”

“The Improving Government for America's Taxpayers Act will better equip Congress with the information in needs to do oversight of the federal government,” said Tim Stretton, Director of the Congressional Oversight Initiative at the Project On Government Oversight (POGO). “POGO applauds Chair Kilmer and Ranking Member Timmons for introducing this critically important piece of legislation, and their continued efforts on the Select Committee on Modernization to make Congress more effective, efficient, and transparent on behalf of the American people.”