Growing Support for Online Release of Agency Reports


A bill to make federal agency reports to Congress available to the public online has garnered bipartisan support in the House, a companion bill in the Senate, and the thumbs-up from the Government Printing Office and transparency advocates. The Access to Congressionally Mandated Reports Act would gather together all reports to Congress from federal agencies in one place. It requires that they be published online by GPO in bulk, in open formats, and in a timely fashion, so that people can easily learn about the work of the federal government. As things currently stand, the reports are scattered about online, in the infrequent circumstance when they can be found at all.

Representative Mike Quigley (D-IL) introduced the legislation in the House in May (HR 1974), after which it was promptly considered by the Committee on Government Oversight and Reform, endorsed by Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA), and unanimously reported out of committee. The bill currently has 17 co-sponsors from both sides of the aisle, including senior Republican leader Greg Walden (R-OR).

Senator Joseph Lieberman (I-CT) introduced companion legislation in the Senate in July (S. 1411) along with Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Tom Coburn (R-OK). Co-sponsorship by the co-chairs of the Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee bodes well for its future consideration by that committee.

The Government Printing Office, which would be responsible for implementing the legislation, wrote a letter in May indicating its ability and willingness to put the law into effect. Additionally, a coalition of organizations (including Sunlight) wrote to Congress in support of the legislation.

To become law, some hurdles remain. The Committee on House Administration, the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee, and the Senate Rules Committee would all have to indicate their assent, setting the stage for consideration on the floor by the House and Senate. It’s time to enact this bill into law.