Lawmakers Want To Ax Reports No One Reads

The publications on the target list are outdated, duplicative or unnecessary, according to Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va. The publications on the target list are outdated, duplicative or unnecessary, according to Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va. J. Scott Applewhite/AP

Up to 300 seldom-read federal reports would be discontinued or merged with related reports under legislation gaining momentum in Congress.

Ranging from the Agriculture Department’s “Listing of Areas Rural in Character” to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence’s “Federal Bureau of Investigation Information Sharing,” the publications on the target list are outdated, duplicative or unnecessary, according to Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va. 

“All too frequently Congress adds more reporting requirements without checking to see if they overlap with existing ones,” Warner said in introducing legislation March 10 with Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H. “If these unnecessary but required reports are wasting staff time and resources and are sitting on a shelf collecting dust, then it's long past time for them to be eliminated or consolidated.”

Ayotte added that eliminating such reports is needed “to streamline and modernize government wherever possible” to improve efficiency. 

Agencies were required to identify reports that had outlived their usefulness under the 2010 Government Performance and Results Modernization Act. 

Warner, who serves on the performance task force of the Senate Budget Committee, cited as an example the annual report required by Customs and Border Protection on violations of the 2000 Dog and Cat Fur Protection Act sent to 14 members of Congress. “However, there has been just one violation of the Dog and Cat Fur Protection Act recorded in the past five years,” Warner noted. 

Also targeted is the Social Security Administration’s report on its printing activities, which requires 100 employees spending an estimated 95 days to produce, yet, “there is no evidence of any action, or reaction, from members of Congress designated to receive the report,” Warner said. 

On the House side, the Government Oversight and Reform Committee on March 12 approved a similar bill (H.R. 4194) by voice vote. Introduced by Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., it targets 170 reports.

Also clearing Issa’s committee the same day was a bill (H.R. 4195) to end the requirement to physically print the Federal Register and the requirement that agencies provide multiple copies of their submissions to the Federal Register.

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