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Rep. Norman Introduces Federal Spending Transparency Legislation

  • Cost Act
Earlier today, Rep. Ralph Norman (SC-5) introduced the Cost Openness and Spending Transparency (COST) Act. This legislation will require public disclosure of the total cost to taxpayers for every project supported with federal funds. A companion is expected to be introduced in the Senate by Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA).
The federal government utilizes hundreds of companies, non-profit organizations, academic institutions, and other entities to implement a wide variety of programs, projects, and other activities. Under current law, entities that receive funding from some federal agencies are required to publicly disclose information about how those dollars are used, and what percentage of a project's total costs were paid for by taxpayers.
Unfortunately, this law is largely ignored by many recipients, as well as the federal agencies that distribute those funds. Furthermore, the current law only applies to the Departments of Labor, Defense, Health & Human Services, Education, and related agencies. This means we have very little transparency into where taxpayer dollars are ultimately used.
Rep. Norman's COST Act would improve this in three ways:
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, this legislation will authorize the Office of Management and Budget to withhold funds from a recipient that does not appropriately disclose the costs, helping to ensure compliance from both the beneficiaries and the agencies responsible.
Rep. Norman issued the following statement on Tuesday:
"Given the trend of irresponsible spending and rapidly rising national debt, we must ensure entities that receive government funding are accountable and transparent with taxpayer dollars. Right now, many are not. That's why I'm proud to introduce the COST Act, which will not only require better disclosure of taxpayer supported spending, but will also ensure compliance. This is an important step in reigning in years of carefree spending from the federal government."
The COST Act is supported by groups including the National Taxpayers Union, FreedomWorks, and the White Coat Waste Project (WCW).
Anthony Bellotti, president and founder of WCW said, "We applaud Congressman Ralph Norman’s (R-SC) outstanding leadership for introducing the common-sense COST Act — to ensure all federal agencies and their grantees publicly disclose how they spend billions of taxpayers’ hard-earned dollars and withhold funds from rogue facilities that keep their spending a secret. In our fight against cruel and unnecessary taxpayer-funded animal testing, we see taxpayer dollars spent on countless program that would enrage most people. Our 3 million members and other taxpayers have a right to know how much money Uncle Sam is wasting on these types of boondoggles.”
Original co-sponsors of this bill in the House of Representatives include Rep. William Timmons (SC-4) and Rep. Nancy Mace (SC-1), both from South Carolina, along with Reps. Ken Calvert (CA-42), Matt Gaetz (FL-1), Paul Gosar (AZ-4), Jake LaTurner (KS-2), Lisa McClain (MI-2), Pete Sessions (TX-17), Randy Weber (TX-14).