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Posted by on Aug 1, 2013

Grants Legislation Update

Congress - Where Legislation Takes Place

In the past few months, members of Congress have proposed numerous bills affecting federal grants management. Listed below is a summary of pending legislation concerning the grants community.

H.R. 882 – Contracting and Tax Accountability Act of 2013:  This legislation would prohibit the awarding of grants and contracts to entities that are “seriously delinquent” in paying federal taxes. The House approved the bill on April 15, 2013. Additional information about the bill can be found at the following post: House Approves Bill to Prevent Delinquent Taxpayers from Receiving Grants and Contracts.

H.R. 1162 – Government Accountability Office Improvement Act: This bill expands the authority of the Comptroller General to access federal records to conduct audits and investigations. Additionally the Comptroller General is authorized to administer oaths when investigating fraud or federal employee misconduct. The House of Representatives approved the bill on April 15, 2013 and the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee approved the legislation yesterday, July 31st.

H.R. 1211 – FOIA Act: This legislation would require all federal agencies to utilize FOIAonline.gov to process and publish FOIA requests and responses. Under current law, FOIAonline is voluntary and only six agencies, to varying degrees, participate. The House Oversight Committee approved the bill in March 2013 and it is anticipated the House of Representatives will consider the bill before the end of next year.

H.R. 1856 – Closing Long-Empty Accounts Now (CLEAN) Act of 2013: This legislation is a response to the large number of grant accounts that remain open after the end of the project. Under the provisions of this bill, agencies would be required to close grant accounts that remain open 180 days after final reports have been received. This bill mirrors a provision in OMB’s proposed Uniform Guidance. That provision has received negative feedback from some program officials. This legislation, therefore, may be an attempt to pressure OMB to adopt the proposal.

H.R. 2061 / S. 994 – The Digital Accountability and Transparency (DATA) Act of 2013: The DATA Act is designed to increase transparency of federal spending by requiring agencies to publish financial information for grant awards on USASpending.gov. The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee approved the legislation in May 2013. The Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs was originally scheduled to consider the bill on July 31st, however, the bill was removed from the committee’s agenda. Additional information about the DATA Act can be found at the following post: The Data Act is Reintroduced.

H.R. 2781 – Stop Paying Something for Nothing Act of 2013: This legislation is similar to the CLEAN Act, however, it would require agencies to close out grant accounts after 3 years upon receiving the final reports.

S.1360 – Improper Payments Agency Cooperation Enhancement Act of 2013:  This legislation is designed to provide federal agencies greater access to the Death Master File to reduce improper payments to individuals that have died. The Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs unanimously approved the bill on July 31st. The chairman of the committee, Senator Carper, is the author of the bill.

S. 1366 – Verifying Agency Conduct and Needs Through (VACANT) Inspectors General Act: The VACANT Act was introduced last week to address congressional concerns relating to the prolonged vacancies in offices of Inspectors General. Currently there are seven Offices of Inspectors General are vacant. The legislation would allow congressional leaders to appoint an Inspector General when the president has failed to name a nominee within 210 days of a vacancy.

Additional resources and information regarding legislation can be found at Thomas.loc.gov.

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