Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., is a sponsor of the bill.

Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., is a sponsor of the bill. Jacquelyn Martin/AP

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Senate Panel Backs Bill Requiring Greater Transparency on Federal Spending

Goal is for taxpayers to have access to more information on where their money is going. 

Senate overseers on Wednesday approved a bipartisan bill that would require federal agencies to be more transparent about the performance and costs of their programs. 

The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs committee advanced by voice vote “The Taxpayers Right to Know Act” (S. 2177),  introduced last week by Sens. James Lankford, R-Okla.; Maggie Hassan, D-N.H.; Ron Johnson, R-Wis.; and Krysten Sinema, D-Ariz. The legislation would require agencies to make public detailed information on how well programs are working and how much is being spent on them.  

“Our bill ensures Congress can provide thorough oversight of federal spending, help showcase good stewardship of tax dollars, and provide additional necessary details to root out duplication, inefficiency and waste,” Lankford said in a statement. If enacted, the bill would create a report card for all federal programs and provide an online database of agency financial data and performance metrics. “This bill has been one of my top priorities for long-term transparency of otherwise opaque federal spending,” he said. 

Sen. Maggie Hassan, D-N.H., said during the markup Wednesday that she was proud to be the Democratic lead on the bill’s introduction. “I’m really encouraged by this committee’s willingness to take up and pass common sense reforms to make the federal government run more efficiently and save taxpayer dollars and that we’re doing it in a bipartisan way,” she said. 

Lankford has been working on this legislation since he came to Congress in 2011. Previous versions passed in the House, but the Senate has never voted on it. The House version (H.R. 3830) was also introduced last week, by Reps. Tim Walberg, R-Mich., and Jim Cooper. D-Tenn. 

CORRECTIONThe initial version of this story incorrectly said the bill requires a report card for federal program with a budget of $1 million or more. That was the case with previous versions of the bill. The current "Taxpayer's Right to Know" Act requires a report card for every federal program.