Quigley Transparency Legislation to Make Congressional Reports Available to the Public Passes the House
Today, U.S. Representative Mike Quigley’s (IL-05) legislation to increase Congressional transparency passed the U.S. House of Representatives unanimously. The bipartisan, bicameral Access to Congressionally Mandated Reports Act (ACMRA), H.R. 736, will establish a searchable central website for the public to access any report that has been mandated by Congress. Quigley, the co-founder and co-chair of the Transparency Caucus, first introduced the ACMRA in 2011 and has re-introduced it every Congress since.
“Transparency doesn’t just mean making information public. It also means making sure the public can actually access the information. In our age of technological advancement, there is no excuse for not making public, non-confidential agency reports easily accessible,” said Quigley. “I’m proud to have championed this legislation over the years and proud to have been on the floor today when Congress unanimously passed it. I look forward to hopefully seeing it come to a vote in the Senate soon.”
Each year, Congress receives thousands of reports from federal agencies but they are not compiled in a central location online. In fact, the only comprehensive list of congressionally mandated reports is printed in paper format each year by the Clerk of the House and is available only by request. The ACMRA would compile these reports in a single website accessible to the public where you can search, sort, and download all reports immediately. Making these non-confidential agency reports readily available will help facilitate research, journalism, and hold elected officials and the government accountable.
The ACMRA has been endorsed by 27 organizations including Campaign for Accountability, Demand Progress, GovTrack.us, National Immigrant Justice Center, Sunlight Foundation, and Taxpayers for Common Sense.
“The House's passage today of the Access to Congressionally Mandated Reports Act (ACMRA) is a milestone in government transparency," said Daniel Schuman, policy director, Demand Progress. "With one fell swoop, the legislation would result in the online publication of thousands of agency reports to Congress at a central website, empowering congressional overseers and journalists alike to delve deeply into the operations of the federal government and to draw connections heretofore impossible. This is a paradigm shift in government transparency and accountability."
Before today’s vote, Quigley spoke from the floor of the House of Representatives to urge his colleagues to support the legislation. Video of his speech is available here and his remarks as prepared for delivery are included below.
I will keep my comments brief because this common-sense, bipartisan bill is simple.
H.R. 736 would make all agency reports available to Congress, and releasable under FOIA, on one website at no cost to the American public.
Each year, federal agencies submit thousands of reports to Congress containing a wealth of information that enables the public to better understand how well federal agencies are (or are not) fulfilling their respective missions.
From ensuring the safety of our drugs and food supply to protecting the environment, and monitoring the soundness of our financial institutions.
Unfortunately, many of these reports simply sit collecting dust in the Committees they’re delivered to, or are posted in numerous and confusing places on dozens of agency websites rarely to be seen or thought of again.
In fact, the only comprehensive list of congressionally mandated reports is printed in paper format each year by the Clerk of the House and available only by request, provided you know it exists.
My bill would, for the first time, create a single website where the public and Members of Congress can easily search, sort and download all congressional reports from agencies.
Ultimately, this will help us conduct better research and oversight of the agencies,
And will allow the public to learn about what agencies are doing with their hard-earned tax dollars.
This bill is meant to be a window into the workings of the government, and to ensure the government’s business is done transparently and is accountable to the people it serves.
I urge my colleagues to support this straight-forward, common-sense bill and vote yes on H.R. 736.
I yield back.