A bipartisan commission long sought by good-government groups to break congressional stalemates to eliminate wasteful programs is now in the form of legislation in both the House and Senate.
On July 11, Rep. Cheri Bustos, D-Ill., and 11 co-sponsors of both parties introduced the Government Transformation Act (H.R. 2675) to empanel a commission of seven non-federal employees to hold hearings, coordinate with agencies, issue regular reports to Congress and propose management reforms that would be translated into legislative language and given up-or-down votes in Congress.
On Tuesday, Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., introduced a similar bill (S. 1297).
Four of the commission members, who would be paid and serve three-year terms, would be appointed by congressional leaders of both parties and three by the president. Criteria for membership would be “individuals with recognition for their expertise in agencies, efficiency, waste reduction, finance and economics, or actuarial sciences, and who provide a mix of different professional backgrounds and broad geographic representation,” the bill states.
The legislation was welcomed by the congressional reform advocacy group No Labels and by the nonprofit Government Transformation Initiative founded by former Comptroller General David Walker. The groups link the bills to President Obama’s July 8 announcement of his renewed effort at government management reforms.
“By implementing cost-savings measures, the federal government would have more fiscal flexibility for needed investments while, at the same time, helping to restore fiscal sanity,” Walker said in a statement. “Establishing a Government Transformation Commission would also send a signal to the public that action is being taken, in a bipartisan manner, to help restore confidence in the federal government.”