Task Force Press

The Fiscal Times
June 26, 2014

Congress is always demanding efficiency from the executive branch of the federal Government, but a release from the Obama administration on Wednesday points out that a lot of the waste in Washington actually originates on Capitol Hill.

The Office of Management and Budget released a list of 74 reports that various Federal agencies recommend be either consolidated or cut altogether – the majority of them demanded by Congress itself. That comes in addition to 376 outdated or duplicative reports and plans that the Obama Administration brought to Congress’ attention just two years ago. 

“This action represents another step in the President’s Management Agenda and overall effort to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the Federal government,” wrote OMB’s Deputy Director for Management Beth Cobert in the Wednesday press release.

Wednesday’s list contained requests to eliminate such things as reports on the nation’s “distant water tuna fleet,” and hard-copy versions of the import tariff schedule, which is usually out of date days after publication.

However, it is not quite as comedic as it’s predecessor. In 2012, the Department of Homeland Security recommended putting an end to their annual “Dog and Cat Fur report,” which found only a single violation of the Dog and Cat Fur Protection Act in the five years prior. The Department of Agriculture suggested cutting its report on “Timber supply and demand in Southeastern Alaska.” Their justification: “[The Department] is uncertain as to whether enough congressional interest in this report exists to warrant its submission.”

To their credit, some lawmakers on Capitol Hill appear to have noticed the problem. Mark Warner (D-VA) and Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) have introduced legislation called the “Government Reports Elimination Act of 2014.” In a March 2014 joint press release, they claim the bill would remove or consolidate over 300 reports deemed “unnecessary, duplicative or outdated” by more than two-dozen federal agencies.

“All too frequently Congress adds more reporting requirements without checking to see if they overlap with existing ones,” Warner said in the statement. “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.”

Representatives Darrell Issa (R-CA) and Gerry Connolly (D-VA) are introducing a bipartisan bill on the House side.