House passes bill to evaluate government spending on heels of two reports

"I think this bill will go a long way in improving the results and transparency of the federal government's work for the American people," Carper said. "Given our mind-boggling federal deficit, the American people deserve to know that every dollar they send to Washington is being used wisely."

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) also applauded passage of the bill as the General Accounting Office and Treasury Department released their government spending analyses today. 

"This bill gives lawmakers better tools to make informed budgetary decisions, reward effectiveness and punish waste in federal agencies and steer agencies toward more results-oriented government," she said. 

Meanwhile, the General Accounting Office released a report showing they couldn't render an opinion on the 2010 consolidated financial statements of the federal government, "because of widespread material internal control weaknesses, significant uncertainties and other limitations."

The problem is unfortunate but has been common for the past several years, a GAO spokesman said. 

Treasury also released a report outlining the issue in fiscal 2010, which finds that while the economy has improved, there are still challenges. 

"Even though significant progress has been made since the enactment of key financial management reforms in the 1990s, our report on the U.S. government's consolidated financial statement illustrates that much work remains to be done to improve federal financial management," said Gene Dodaro, Acting Comptroller General of the United States.

The report cited the main obstacles were serious financial management problems at the Department of Defense that made its financial statements unauditable; the federal government's inability to adequately account for and reconcile intra-governmental activity and balances between federal agencies; and the federal government's ineffective process for preparing the consolidated financial statements.

"Given the federal government's fiscal challenges, it's imperative that Congress, the administration, and federal managers have reliable, useful, and timely financial and performance information. Improved accuracy and transparency in financial reporting are urgently needed," Dodaro said.

The bill also would:

  • Require that federal agencies assess performance on a quarterly basis to ensure federal taxpayer dollars are being spent in an effective manner. 
  • Make these assessment reports available on a single public website so both Congress and the public have access to critical information on federal agencies’ strengths and weaknesses. 
  • Require each agency to designate a Chief Operating Officer who will be held accountable for agency results.
  • Require the federal budget office to identify duplicative and outdated agency reporting and reduce the number of annual written reports by 10 percent.
  • Require action if an agency’s programs have not met performance goals for a fiscal year.