Congress Unanimously Clears Tester’s Transparency and Accountability Bill
Senator’s Bipartisan Legislation Heads to President’s Desk
(U.S. Senate)-Senator Jon Tester’s bipartisan bill to increase federal government transparency and accountability to taxpayers has unanimously cleared both chambers of Congress and is now waiting for a signature on the President’s desk.
Tester’s bill, the GAO Access and Oversight Act, will equip the Government Accountability Office (GAO) with the ability to audit key federal government programs by ensuring the federal government’s watchdog agency has access to the National Directory of New Hires database.
“This bipartisan bill sheds more light on federal spending and holds government more accountable,” Tester said. “Giving the Government Accountability Office the authority to access the National Directory of New Hires will ensure that the taxpayers’ watchdog can root out overpayments and eliminate waste, fraud, and abuse.”
Congress created the National Directory of New Hires database in 1996 to consolidate state data on unemployment insurance claims, quarterly wage data, and information on new hires. Many federal government agencies currently have access to the National Directory of New Hires, but the GAO does not have access to this critical data. Tester’s bipartisan bill clarifies that GAO has the authority to access the National Directory of New Hires so the office responsible for federal oversight can more easily root out overpayments, as well as identify waste, fraud, and abuse.
Federal government agencies reported nearly $125 billion in improper payments in 2014, and Tester’s bill is a significant step forward to help reduce that number.
Tester drafted the GAO Access and Oversight Act with Senator Ben Sasse (R-Neb.). The bill today passed the Senate 99 to 0, and was unanimously passed by the House of Representatives.