Legislation that would require virtually all agency reports to Congress be available online in one central location advanced out of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee yesterday on a voice vote. The Access to Congressionally Mandated Reports Act, originally sponsored by Rep. Mike Quigley and enjoying the bipartisan support of Committee Chairman Darrell Issa and ranking member Elijah Cummings, will need the sign-off of the Committee on House Administration before it can get a vote on the House floor. In March, 26 organizations wrote to the Oversight Committee to express their support for ACMRA.
The legislation, which garnered the approval of both committees last Congress but did not receive a vote last Congress before time ran out last session, would make agency reports to Congress more transparent. It directs agencies to give the Government Printing Office the reports they file with Congress (with appropriate redactions), and for GPO to make those reports available online in open formats for bulk download after a short time. GPO has expressed support for taking on this role. The legislation was tweaked slightly so that the repository will not include mention of reports whose very existence is classified.
Companion legislation was introduced last Congress by Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Chairman Joseph Lieberman and ranking member Susan Collins as well as committee member Tom Coburn. It is hoped that current HSGAC Chairman Tom Carper and ranking member Tom Coburn, along with other senators, will re-introduce legislation in the Senate. Earlier this year, Senator Coburn attempted to attach a version of ACMRA as an amendment to the budget resolution.
The common-sense measure will make it easier for members of Congress, their staff, federal agencies, and the public to gain access to these reports that help reveal how the government functions.
The amended legislation is available here.