House Passes Accountability, Transparency Reforms
WASHINGTON- Today the House of Representatives advanced several transparency and accountability government reforms into law.
“The three reforms we advanced today each represent an important step in the Committee’s long term effort to bring more accountability and transparency to the federal government,” House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., said.
“The Government Employee Accountability Act will ensure senior government leaders face real consequences when they violate the public trust. The Public Interest Disclosure Board Reauthorization Act will ensure we continue to fight over-classification, which is too often a way for agencies to hide embarrassing facts. The Hatch Act Modernization Act will fix unintended consequences from the 73 year-old Hatch Act that have for too long prevented qualified people from entering public service in their local communities,” Issa continued.
The House of Representatives passed the following bills:
• H.R. 6016, the Government Employee Accountability Act, introduced by House Oversight and Government Reform Committee member Rep. Mike Kelly, R-Pa., gives federal agencies additional tools to use when their senior executives have engaged in misappropriation of funds, misconduct, neglect of duty, or malfeasance. While respecting due process rights, the bill allows agencies to take prompt action with respect to a senior leader who may have committed a crime. The legislation was introduced in the wake of the General Services Administration (GSA) Las Vegas conference scandal, after one career senior executive remained on paid administrative leave despite his central role in the scandal. H.R. 6016 was adopted by a vote of 402-2.
• S. 3564, the Public Interest Declassification Board Reauthorization Act of 2012, sponsored by outgoing Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Senator Joe Lieberman, ID-Conn., preserves the cause of transparency by maintaining this expert advisory group charged with ensuring that the Executive Branch is classifying and declassifying records in a responsible manner. Without this legislation, the PIDB will sunset on December 31, 2012. S. 3564 was adopted by a vote of 409-1.
• S. 2170, the Hatch Act Modernization Act of 2012, introduced by retiring Senator Daniel Akaka, D-Hawaii, will accomplish several important changes to the 73 year old law advanced at a May 16th Subcommittee hearing. Under current law, state and local government employees may not run for partisan office if their job is connected to federal funding. For example, a Pennsylvania K-9 officer was not eligible to run for his local school board because his K-9 partner was tied to funding from the Department of Homeland Security. In another case, the U.S. Office of Special Counsel advised an ambulance driver that he would violate the Hatch Act if he ran for county coroner because some of the patients he transported receive Medicaid. S. 1270 was adopted by a voice vote.
S. 3564 and S. 2170 now head to the President for his signature. H.R. 6016 heads to the Senate for consideration there.