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Every year, Congress requires Federal agencies to produce thousands of written reports and plans on far ranging topics. While these reports and plans often provide useful information for legislative decision-making, oversight, and public transparency, some reports and plans that were once useful have become outdated or duplicative, and needlessly divert time and resources away from critical agency mission activities.
To help address this problem, in 2012, the Administration released an initial list of more than 350 outdated or duplicative reports and plans that Federal agencies recommended for elimination or consolidation. Today, the Administration is releasing a new list that identifies 74 additional reports and plans recommended for elimination or consolidation. This action represents another step in the President’s Management Agenda and overall effort to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the Federal government. As required by the Government Performance and Results Modernization Act of 2010, these lists have been posted on Performance.gov, the Administration’s online tool for tracking government performance.
In many of these cases, reporting requirements have long outlived their need. Since 2000, for example, the Department of Homeland Security has been required to prepare an annual report to Congress on violations of the Dog and Cat Fur Protection Act. For quite some time, however, there has been very little to report, with only one violation found in the past seven years. Other reporting requirements remain on the books even though the particular program the report is focused on no longer exists. For example, the Department of the Interior has a requirement from the Energy Policy Act of 2005 to prepare a report every year on the Royalty-in-Kind program that was discontinued in 2009.
We have already seen some progress in culling unnecessary reports and plans. With the passage of the National Defense Authorization Act in 2011, Congress agreed to streamline about half of the over 150 reports and plans the Defense Department recommended for modification that year. And Congress did act to eliminate or modify some of the reports and plans included in the Administration’s initial 2012 list. But most importantly, there is clear movement in Congress to address this problem even further, with legislation currently residing in both the House and Senate that would potentially eliminate or consolidate hundreds of additional reports and plans now required of Federal agencies.
From the day the President took office, he has been committed to improving the openness and transparency of government, and increasing the amount and quality of information made available to the public and to Congress, through websites such as Data.gov, USAspending.gov, and Performance.gov. We can continue that openness and transparency while eliminating unnecessary reporting requirements that waste limited taxpayer resources. The Administration looks forward to working closely with Congress as we continue to make progress in this area in the months and years ahead.
Beth Cobert is the Deputy Director for Management at the Office of Management and Budget