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house Bill H.R. 72

Does the Government Accountability Office Need More Power to Investigate Fraud?

Argument in favor

The Government Accountability Office shouldn’t be stonewalled by federal agencies that don’t want potential fraud revealed, and this bill clarifies that they have the authority to carry out their investigations.

Heidi's Opinion
···
01/17/2017
Constituents are really scared. I'm 54 and have never felt terrified of my government before. We are heading down a dark, dark path. No one seems willing or able to stand up and lead effectively. The office of oversight is one of the few voices we have left. Please...senators and house members, search your souls and stand up for American democracy. We are going to lose it on Friday the 20th of January.
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Diane's Opinion
···
01/18/2017
Let's start with investigating Trump for fraud
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Noah's Opinion
···
01/17/2017
To those who oppose this: why should bipartisan support be the deciding factor for supporting this? This is not an issue of political parties; this is an issue of protecting our democracy. The president's fondness of dictators and authoritarian regimes is too serious to be seen as a joke.
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Argument opposed

The Government Accountability Office can investigate fraud and improper payments in unemployment insurance programs without accessing the National Directory of New Hires database.

Jlshannon's Opinion
···
01/17/2017
This is, as presented, far too vague and seemingly benign. If it's hiding something, it could, as others have said, lead to ideological witch hunts, which are already far too debilitating to our system of government. We already have watchdog groups with adequate power, if not political backing. If this bill is as benign as it seems, it's likely, therefore, unnecessary. We should instead perhaps give (back) more power to the ethics board overseeing Congress, which, despite announcements, has had cuts to its authority and utility. And, if we're frank, Congress probably needs greater oversight at this point than our various agencies, which are already monitored and, when properly done, held accountable. Let's instead propose a bill that more closely and independently monitors our Congresspeople and their actions or lack thereof.
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Jeff's Opinion
···
01/17/2017
As an ardent supporter of our government accountability organizations. I initially wanted to support this bill. However, I then remembered that the Holman rule exists, that President-elect Trump demanded the names of federal employees working on politically-sensitive projects, and that agencies successfully thwarted his request. This bill would empower the GAO to access the federal new hires list, which is surely categorized by agency and reveals new employees' job titles. While this would likely prevent fraud on occasion, it would also provide a new tool for Congress to more-easily cripple individual government agencies by essentially firing new employees they hire for politically-sensitive projects. The provision of standing to sue for information is also great, but is concerning for the same reasons. In more reasonable times, this would be a great bill. But not now.
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Ivanfdez00's Opinion
···
01/17/2017
This sounds like yet another opportunity for congress to perform witch hunts with a goal to take away power and authority from federal agencies. Ensure there are controls in place so individual members aren't misusing this new power. Comparing this to the wishes of congress to remove power from the ethics review board, and it sounds like the house and senate are trying to consolidate power in congress while taking away the people's ability to have oversight over congress itself by hiding access to information that is supplied and investigated because of ethics cases.
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bill Progress


  • EnactedJanuary 31st, 2017
    The President signed this bill into law
  • The senate Passed January 17th, 2017
    Roll Call Vote 99 Yea / 0 Nay
      senate Committees
      Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs
  • The house Passed January 4th, 2017
    Passed by Voice Vote
      house Committees
      Committee on Oversight and Reform
    IntroducedJanuary 3rd, 2017

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What is House Bill H.R. 72?

This bill would authorize the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to obtain federal agency records and potentially bring a civil action against an agency to force compliance so that it can perform its audit, evaluation, and investigative duties for Congress. It would clarify that the GAO can access the National Directory of New Hires database in order to investigate potential fraud or improper payments in unemployment insurance programs.

Agency statements on actions taken or planned in response to GAO recommendations would be provided to relevant congressional committees and the GAO.

The GAO is the federal government’s supreme auditing entity and is directed by the Comptroller General.

Impact

Federal agencies investigated by the GAO; Congress; and the GAO.

Cost of House Bill H.R. 72

A CBO cost estimate is unavailable.

More Information

In-Depth: Sponsoring Rep. Buddy Carter (R-GA) introduced this bill to give the GAO with enhanced tools to obtain records for investigations of federal agencies:

“The GAO must be able to perform its duties to protect taxpayer dollars and ensure the federal government is transparent and accountable. However, GAO’s important mission has been blocked due to some federal agencies failing to cooperate. I strongly urge my colleagues in the Senate to act swiftly on this legislation to ensure GAO is able to conduct their investigations properly.”

The House passed this bill on a voice vote during the first week of the 115th Congress after passing it on a 404-0 vote near the end of the 114th Congress, when it then stalled in the Senate.


Media:

Summary by Eric Revell
(Photo Credit: kafka4prez via Flickr / Creative Commons)

AKA

GAO Access and Oversight Act of 2017

Official Title

To ensure the Government Accountability Office has adequate access to information.

    Constituents are really scared. I'm 54 and have never felt terrified of my government before. We are heading down a dark, dark path. No one seems willing or able to stand up and lead effectively. The office of oversight is one of the few voices we have left. Please...senators and house members, search your souls and stand up for American democracy. We are going to lose it on Friday the 20th of January.
    Like (199)
    Follow
    Share
    This is, as presented, far too vague and seemingly benign. If it's hiding something, it could, as others have said, lead to ideological witch hunts, which are already far too debilitating to our system of government. We already have watchdog groups with adequate power, if not political backing. If this bill is as benign as it seems, it's likely, therefore, unnecessary. We should instead perhaps give (back) more power to the ethics board overseeing Congress, which, despite announcements, has had cuts to its authority and utility. And, if we're frank, Congress probably needs greater oversight at this point than our various agencies, which are already monitored and, when properly done, held accountable. Let's instead propose a bill that more closely and independently monitors our Congresspeople and their actions or lack thereof.
    Like (67)
    Follow
    Share
    Let's start with investigating Trump for fraud
    Like (135)
    Follow
    Share
    To those who oppose this: why should bipartisan support be the deciding factor for supporting this? This is not an issue of political parties; this is an issue of protecting our democracy. The president's fondness of dictators and authoritarian regimes is too serious to be seen as a joke.
    Like (105)
    Follow
    Share
    As an ardent supporter of our government accountability organizations. I initially wanted to support this bill. However, I then remembered that the Holman rule exists, that President-elect Trump demanded the names of federal employees working on politically-sensitive projects, and that agencies successfully thwarted his request. This bill would empower the GAO to access the federal new hires list, which is surely categorized by agency and reveals new employees' job titles. While this would likely prevent fraud on occasion, it would also provide a new tool for Congress to more-easily cripple individual government agencies by essentially firing new employees they hire for politically-sensitive projects. The provision of standing to sue for information is also great, but is concerning for the same reasons. In more reasonable times, this would be a great bill. But not now.
    Like (53)
    Follow
    Share
    This sounds like yet another opportunity for congress to perform witch hunts with a goal to take away power and authority from federal agencies. Ensure there are controls in place so individual members aren't misusing this new power. Comparing this to the wishes of congress to remove power from the ethics review board, and it sounds like the house and senate are trying to consolidate power in congress while taking away the people's ability to have oversight over congress itself by hiding access to information that is supplied and investigated because of ethics cases.
    Like (39)
    Follow
    Share
    In the tumultuous times of corruption we live in, we need all the accountability we can get.
    Like (24)
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    Accountability and ethics are going to be the most important ideas moving forward with the next administration. When you have a President who lies as easily as breathing air, that attitude will trickle down through every department unless kept in check.
    Like (19)
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    I won't support this bill without a bipartisan co-sponsor. UPDATE: It's apparently already a done deal. Had virtual bipartisan support, apparently.
    Like (15)
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    Agencies should not hide what they do. That practice indicates that something fishy is going on.
    Like (11)
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    The GAO is more necessary than ever. It needs more information and training first, and then more authority, to deal with fraud. The best thing would be to hire professional investigators and go from there.
    Like (10)
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    While this looks safe on the surface, this will be used for witch hunts when the office is restaffed. They don't need this power when the justice department already has the power to prosecute fraud. The road to hell is paved with good intentions.
    Like (10)
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    Conservatives are always claiming there's lots of waste and fraud, especially the President-Elect. Let's give the GAO the power to investigate that.
    Like (9)
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    Washington has a corruption problem! Money rapidly flowing in from corporations and special interest groups (check out ALEC scandal in GA) through lobbyists and "nonprofit" 501c "charity" groups is - no exaggeration - undermining our democratic republic. We need more ethics and honesty in Washington. Toward that end we must have more independent watch dogs, more transparency, and ultimately more accountability. Strong independent ethics, such as the office of congressional ethics (OCE) should not be gutted (literally the first attempted act of the 115th Congress) or "defanged" - instead we need to bolster ethics commitments in Congress. If your representative is against this, ask them why? What have they got to hide? When our elected leaders spend taxpayers dollars they should be accountable, never attempting to "plead the fifth" on their spending accounts! We the People deserve moral leaders, not figureheads that are for sale to the highest bidder.
    Like (7)
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    This would not save millions but billions. To stop fraud inside government and out then provide the tools necessary and clear the way. I wish this was made so before our fraudulent BHO had started his 8 years or even Bush for that matter!
    Like (7)
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    How is this even a question?
    Like (7)
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    About time. Move this quickly so $Millions are saved.
    Like (7)
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    We need this kind of oversight. Especially now.
    Like (5)
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    Yeah, of course! It is an independent and non-partisan organization.
    Like (5)
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    Thank you, Diane Feinstein and Kamala Harris, for voting to strengthen the Government Accountability Office.
    Like (5)
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