Bill Granting GAO More Power Passes House Panel

House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., and ranking member Elijah Cummings, D-Md., introduced the bill on March 14. House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., and ranking member Elijah Cummings, D-Md., introduced the bill on March 14. J. Scott Applewhite/AP file photo

A bill to strengthen the Government Accountability Office’s powers passed the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on Wednesday by a voice vote.

The Government Accountability Office Improvement Act (H.R. 1162), would beef up the comptroller general’s investigative and audit authorities. Some of the enhanced powers include a broader ability to access sensitive federal agency information, make copies of records and administer certain types of oaths for investigations. Many of the provisions of the bill were brought over from last year’s DATA Act, which cleared the House but failed in the Senate.

House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., and ranking member Elijah Cummings, D-Md., introduced the bill on March 14. During Wednesday’s session, Issa said that GAO was the “pride and joy” of the committee and that the bill would enhance the agency’s ability to serve Congress.  The legislation would help detect fraud, and build upon GAO’s status as a non-partisan institution.

In a statement released on Monday, Cummings said that Congress “is responsible for holding federal agencies accountable for the way they spend taxpayer dollars,” and that the proposed bill gives the GAO “the tools they need to do their job in order to root out waste, fraud and abuse.”

A GAO spokesman told Federal Computer Week on Tuesday that “the bill would help to improve GAO’s access to documents that help us do our work,” and thanked the two congressmen for their support. 

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