The price tag for a proposal to root out program duplication: $100 million

Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., sponsored the Senate version of the bill. Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., sponsored the Senate version of the bill. AP file photo

This story has been updated.

Proposed legislation to more carefully monitor all federal programs to avoid duplication will come with a $100 million price tag, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

The Taxpayers Right to Know Act (H.R. 3609), which Rep. James Lankford, R-Okla., sponsored, requires agency heads to track and post the administrative expenses, expenditures, number of beneficiaries and number of employees -- both federal employees and contractors -- it takes every program and service under their purview. They would be required to publish reports each fiscal year and would have to identify overlapping programs.

The costs of the bill, which passed the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee in April, will not be offset by any revenues, CBO found.

Lankford said the bill will be paid for by the time it passes into law.

“As we move through the legislative process, we will develop offsets…to ensure the bill is revenue neutral when it moves to the floor,” he said. “Regardless of CBO's score, the bill will ultimately save taxpayers billions of dollars by eliminating waste and duplication by requiring each federal agency to send Congress information about each program they administer.”

A spokeswoman for Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla. -- who sponsored the Senate version of the bill -- said there are minor differences between the two proposals in the definitions of what must be reported. Coburn’s office has been working with the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee to finalize these definitions and expects to bring the bill to the full panel for a markup “in the near future,” the spokeswoman said.

“This bill provides Congress with the tools to see . . . waste and act on it,” Lankford said in a statement in April. “Currently, it is impossible to navigate federal agencies when there is no list of programs, defined metrics or clear cost. The Taxpayers’ Right to Know Act simplifies the process by establishing reporting requirements to identify inefficiencies.”

The bill was proposed in part to confront redundancy in government, as spelled out by a 2011 Government Accountability Office report that found the elimination of overlap “could result in tens of billions of dollars in annual savings.” GAO conducted the study due to a provision Coburn attached to a 2010 bill to raise the debt ceiling.

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