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Introducing the COST Act

  • Cost Act

I introduced new legislation yesterday that will help shed some more light on where your tax dollars are spent.  It’s called the COST Act, which stands for “Cost Openness and Spending Transparency.” This bill will force the public disclosure of how federal dollars are distributed.  Here’s how it works:

As we all know, the federal government relies on hundreds of companies, non-profits, academic institutions, and other entities to implement a wide variety of programs and projects. Under current law, entities that receive funding from some federal agencies are required to publicly disclose how those dollars are used.  But…

The problem is this law is largely ignored by many recipients. Furthermore, the current law only applies to funds distributed by the Departments of Labor, Defense, Health & Human Services, and Education. This means we really don’t have much transparency into where your tax dollars ultimately wind up.

This bill will fix several things:

First, it will expand disclosure requirements to funds distributed by ALL federal agencies, not just the four listed above.

Second, it will strengthen the reporting mandate to require that both federal agencies and the entities receiving taxpayer dollars must publicly disclose "the dollar amount of the federal funding made available for the program, project, or activity" along with the percentage that federal funding represents to the program's total cost.

Third, we need to put some teeth behind it. So this legislation will authorize the Office of Management and Budget to withhold funds from a recipient that does not submit these public disclosures, helping to ensure compliance from both the beneficiaries and their agencies.

Given the trend of irresponsible spending and rapidly rising national debt, we need to make sure the entities receiving your taxpayer dollars are accountable and transparent with that money. To a large extent, that’s not happening right now.

I have several original co-sponsors to this bill in the House, and a companion bill is being introduced by Sen. Joni Ernst over in the Senate.  Hopefully we’ll get some bi-partisan support behind this effort.