New law reinstates burdensome reports

President Bush signed a law Wednesday that reinstates nearly 30 reports eliminated under a six-year-old law aimed at reducing unnecessary paperwork. Sponsored by Rep. Felix Grucci, R-N.Y., H.R. 1042 restored 29 reports that lawmakers deemed are relevant to oversight responsibilities for the House Committee on Science. Included in the reinstated reports are a biennial report from the President on activities of all agencies in the field of marine science, an annual report on the National Technology Information Service and its activities, updates to the National Earthquake Hazards Reductions Program, and an annual report on the application of new technologies to reduce aircraft noise levels. "Some reporting requirements were arguably obsolete, but these reports contained much of the information that the executive branch supplies to Congress, ranging from the annual budget documents to reports on the functioning of specific government programs," Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee, D-Texas, told legislators when the bill was introduced. "These reports go to the heart of executive branch accountability and Congress oversight responsibilities. It is hard to fathom how Congress could do its job of reviewing executive branch activities and making intelligent and legislative decisions without current detailed information on many of those subjects." The 29 reports were removed from the books under the 1995 Federal Reports Elimination and Sunset Act ( S.790), which aimed to "alleviate the paperwork burden on executive branch agencies." After signing the bill, Bush said he was concerned that the restored reporting requirements may still overburden agencies. "I remain concerned that many of the existing statutory reporting requirements impose an excessive burden on executive branch agencies," Bush said. "In particular, I am concerned that some of the reports reinstated by H.R. 1042 are either obsolete or duplicative of other reporting requirements." The President said he would work to reduce the burden of unnecessary statutory reporting requirements while respecting congressional oversight responsibilities.
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