CONGRESSWOMAN ELISE STEFANIK
On Wednesday, December 12, 2012, the House is scheduled to consider S. 3315, the GAO Mandates Revision Act of 2012, under a suspension of the rules requiring a two-thirds majority vote for passage. The bill was introduced by Sen. Thomas Carper (D-DE) on June 20, 2012, and referred to the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. On September 22, 2012, the bill was approved in the Senate, as amended, by unanimous consent.
S. 3315 would reduce the number of reviews and audits conducted by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) for eight specified activities. The Congress often requires that the GAO perform an annual examination of a program, agency, or other federal activity. S. 3315 would modify or repeal a small number of the reviews and audits GAO is required to perform.
According to Senate Report 219, GAO’s work sometimes results from the requests of Congressional committees or subcommittees, and sometimes it flows directly from a statute mandating GAO to report to Congress on a particular program, often at set intervals and with no end date. Although GAO can work with Congressional requestors to ensure that its work on their request serves Congress's current needs, GAO has little, if any, flexibility with respect to statutory mandates; even if it and relevant Congressional stakeholders agree that the report provides little benefit to Congress.
According to the report, eliminating unnecessary reports not only will take unnecessary work off of GAO's plate; it also will allow GAO to more quickly respond to Congressional requests for assistance in matters of great importance. Statutorily mandated reports and audits take priority over other reports requested by Congress, meaning that statutorily required work, regardless of its importance or urgency, often pushes more pressing and time-sensitive Congressional requests to the back of the queue. Last year, GAO initiated a process under which GAO conducted an agency-wide evaluation of its 102 recurring statutory mandates to identify those relating to programs at a low risk of mismanagement or other problems, or where GAO's recurring work otherwise generally added little value to the administration or oversight of the program. After identifying candidates for elimination, GAO worked with the Congressional committees of jurisdiction to determine whether the intended recipients of the reports concurred with GAO's recommendation to either modify or eliminate the statutory mandate.
CBO estimates that implementing the legislation would have no significant impact on the federal budget. GAO has an annual budget of more than $500 million and prepares hundreds of products for the Congress each year. CBO expects that implementing S. 3315 would not significantly decrease the agency's current workload. Any reduction in the agency's annual cost from implementing S. 3315 would depend on the amounts provided to GAO in future appropriation bills. Enacting S. 3315 would not affect direct spending or revenues; therefore, pay-as-you-go procedures do not apply.