House Oversight Committee member Rep. Gerald Connolly, D-Va.

House Oversight Committee member Rep. Gerald Connolly, D-Va. J. Scott Applewhite/AP

House Passes Bipartisan Bill to Ax Agency Reports No One Reads

Oversight panel’s bill would cancel 79 publications; Senate version would kill 300.

This story has been updated. 

The House on Monday passed a bipartisan bill to cancel 79 agency reports that congressional committees and the Office of Management and Budget have agreed are unnecessary or duplicative.

The Government Reports Elimination Act (H.R. 4194) cleared under suspension of the rules. It was co-sponsored by House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., and Reps. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., and Rob Woodall, R-Ga.

The action now heads to the Senate, where a similar bill (S.2109) introduced by Sens. Mark Warner, D-Va., and Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., would target 300 reports for elimination.

The Congressional Budget Office last week estimated that the House bill would save the government $1 million over five years (an earlier statement by Issa had cited annual savings of $1 million, but his staff later corrected it). CBO listed the agencies affected as the Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Education, Energy, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, Interior, Labor, State, Transportation, Treasury and Veterans Affairs departments, as well as the Corporation for National and Community Service, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Executive Office of the President, the Government Accountability Office and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

“Congress relies on accurate, timely reports to inform its spending and policy decisions, but outdated or duplicative reports are simply a waste of government resources,” Issa said in a statement.

“In today’s challenging fiscal environment,” said Connolly, ranking member of the oversight panel’s Government Operations Subcommittee, “it is incumbent that we leverage every opportunity to streamline or eliminate antiquated agency reporting requirements that are duplicative, irrelevant or simply ignored. Enacting our bipartisan legislation will free up precious agency resources, allowing taxpayer dollars to be devoted to operations that are truly mission-critical, high-priority functions.”

Warner said in a statement to Government Executive that he was pleased the House passed the bill and he looks forward to advancing it in the Senate. "All too frequently Congress adds more reporting requirements without checking to see if they overlap with existing ones," he said. "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."