Report text available as:

  • TXT
  • PDF   (PDF provides a complete and accurate display of this text.) Tip ?
                                                       Calendar No. 68
116th Congress    }                                      {      Report
                                 SENATE
 1st Session      }                                      {      116-32 
_______________________________________________________________________



            MODERNIZING CONGRESSIONAL REPORTING ACT OF 2019

                               __________

                              R E P O R T

                                 of the

                   COMMITTEE ON HOMELAND SECURITY AND

                          GOVERNMENTAL AFFAIRS

                          UNITED STATES SENATE

                              to accompany

                                 S. 196

           TO SAVE TAXPAYER MONEY AND IMPROVE THE EFFICIENCY
 AND SPEED OF INTRAGOVERNMENTAL CORRESPONDENCE, AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES

[GRAPHIC(S) NOT AVAILABLE IN TIFF FORMAT]


                 April 10, 2019.--Ordered to be printed 
                 
                 
                 
                                   ______
		 
                     U.S. GOVERNMENT PUBLISHING OFFICE 
		 
89-010                    WASHINGTON : 2019                 
                 
                 
                 
                 
                 
                 
                 
                 
                 
                 
                 
                 
                 
                 
                 
                 
        COMMITTEE ON HOMELAND SECURITY AND GOVERNMENTAL AFFAIRS

                    RON JOHNSON, Wisconsin, Chairman
ROB PORTMAN, Ohio                    GARY C. PETERS, Michigan
RAND PAUL, Kentucky                  THOMAS R. CARPER, Delaware
JAMES LANKFORD, Oklahoma             MAGGIE HASSAN, New Hampshire
MITT ROMNEY, Utah                    KAMALA D. HARRIS, California
RICK SCOTT, Florida                  KYRSTEN SINEMA, Arizona
MICHAEL B. ENZI, Wyoming             JACKY ROSEN, Nevada
JOSH HAWLEY, Missouri

                Gabrielle D'Adamo Singer, Staff Director
                  Joseph C. Folio, III, Chief Counsel
               Daniel J. Spino, Professional Staff Member
               David M. Weinberg, Minority Staff Director
               Zachary I. Schram, Minority Chief Counsel
      Ashley E. Poling, Minority Director of Governmental Affairs
                     Laura W. Kilbride, Chief Clerk



















                                                       Calendar No. 68
116th Congress    }                                      {      Report
                                 SENATE
 1st Session      }                                      {      116-32

======================================================================



 
            MODERNIZING CONGRESSIONAL REPORTING ACT OF 2019

                                _______
                                

                 April 10, 2019.--Ordered to be printed

                                _______
                                

 Mr. Johnson, from the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental 
                    Affairs, submitted the following

                              R E P O R T

                         [To accompany S. 196]

      [Including cost estimate of the Congressional Budget Office]

    The Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental 
Affairs, to which was referred the bill (S. 196) to save 
taxpayer money and improve the efficiency and speed of 
intragovernmental correspondence, and for other purposes, 
having considered the same, reports favorably thereon with 
amendments and recommends that the bill, as amended, do pass.

                                CONTENTS

                                                                   Page
  I. Purpose and Summary..............................................1
 II. Background and the Need for Legislation..........................2
III. Legislative History..............................................2
 IV. Section-by-Section Analysis......................................2
  V. Evaluation of Regulatory Impact..................................4
 VI. Congressional Budget Office Cost Estimate........................4
VII. Changes in Existing Law Made by the Bill, as Reported............5

                         I. PURPOSE AND SUMMARY

    The purpose of S. 196, the Modernizing Congressional 
Reporting Act of 2019, is to reduce wasteful Federal Government 
spending on hard-copy paper submissions of Federal agency 
reports to Congress. S. 196 requires Federal agencies to send 
all congressional reports or other information in an 
electronic, searchable format unless a congressional office 
specifically requests otherwise. The bill also requires 
agencies to post all congressionally-mandated reports they 
submit, and any work related to the submitted report, on to the 
public website of the agency for public viewing and access.

              II. BACKGROUND AND THE NEED FOR LEGISLATION

    In 2017, the Committee's majority staff received an 
estimated 20,000 sheets of physical mail transmitted by Federal 
agencies.\1\ The production of congressionally-mandated reports 
and physical correspondence comes at a cost to the taxpayers. 
For example, the Department of Veterans Affairs Office of 
Inspector General reported that it cost nearly $3,600 to print 
and mail just one edition of its Semiannual Report to 
Congress.\2\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \1\S. Comm. on Homeland Sec. & Governmental Aff. Majority holds in 
its archive 19 boxes of reports and communications transmitted in 2017. 
Ninety percent of these archived communications are identified by the 
Committee Chief Clerk as having been transmitted from Federal agencies 
and departments. Each box is 4.75" wide, and contains roughly 500 
sheets of paper per 2".
    \2\Letter from Acting Secretary Robert L. Wilkie to Chairman Ron 
Johnson (May 29, 2018) (on file with the S. Comm. on Homeland Sec. & 
Governmental Aff.).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    In 2017, the Committee passed the Federal Register Printing 
Savings Act to reduce unnecessary and wasteful printing costs. 
The Act, signed into law on January 22, 2018, prohibits the 
Government Publishing Office from distributing printed copies 
of the Federal Register to offices of the Federal Government 
and Members of Congress unless an office specifically requests 
otherwise.\3\ During the Committee's consideration of the Act, 
Senator Lankford remarked, ``[w]e all see the exact same thing, 
things that are printed, passed out, never touched. For those 
of us that get all of our information on an iPad or on a 
computer, we are not going to the printed paper at the same 
level.''\4\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \3\Fourth Continuing Appropriations for Fiscal Year 2018, Pub. L. 
No. 115-120.
    \4\S. Comm. on Homeland Sec. & Governmental Aff., transcript of 
July 26, 2017 business meeting.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    S. 196 addresses unnecessary printing by requiring Federal 
agencies to send congressionally-mandated reports and 
correspondence electronically. The bill also provides 
transparency to the American public by requiring Federal 
agencies to post all congressionally-mandated reports and 
information on the agency's public website.

                        III. LEGISLATIVE HISTORY

    S. 196 was introduced on January 19, 2019, by Senators Rob 
Portman (R-OH), Tom Carper (D-DE), Steve Daines (R-MT), Joni 
Ernst (R-IA), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Margaret Wood Hassan (D-
NH), John Hoeven (R-ND), Doug Jones (D-AL), and James Lankford 
(R-OK). The bill was referred to the Committee on Homeland 
Security and Governmental Affairs.
    The Committee considered S. 196 at a business meeting on 
February 13, 2019. S. 196 passed by voice vote en bloc with 
Senators Johnson, Portman, Paul, Lankford, Romney, Scott, Enzi, 
Hawley, Peters, Carper, Hassan, Harris, Sinema, and Rosen 
present.

        IV. SECTION-BY-SECTION ANALYSIS OF THE BILL, AS REPORTED

Section 1. Short title

    This section establishes the short title of the bill as the 
``Modernizing Congressional Reporting Act of 2019.''

Section 2. Definitions

    This section provides definitions for the terms 
``acceptable format,'' ``agency,'' ``congressional office,'' 
``congressional office,'' ``congressionally mandated report,'' 
``open format,'' ``recorded information,'' and ``structured 
data.''

Section 3. Electronic transmission of reports

    Subsection (a) requires Federal agencies to send any report 
or recorded information in an acceptable electronic format.
    Subsection (b) requires Federal agencies to submit to 
Congress such a report in an original electronic file or an 
electronically converted file rather than a scanned document. 
The electronic file submitted to Congress must be searchable by 
character recognition.
    Subsection (c) permits an agency to submit a report in a 
manner other than described in subsection (a) upon agreement 
with the congressional office.
    Subsection (d) requires that, if a congressional office 
designates a method of receiving the report that deviates from 
the method outlined in subsection (a), an agency must submit a 
report under the method designated by the congressional office 
unless otherwise requested by the congressional office.

Section 4. Publishing of reports

    Subsection (a) requires Federal agencies to post any 
congressionally-mandated report or recorded information on its 
website in a consistent location.
    Subsection (b) prohibits any fee, required registration or 
other limitations for access to any report posted on an agency 
website under this bill.
    Subsection (c) requires open access to all information 
posted under this bill, including restrictions that would 
prevent the reuse of information.
    Subsection (d) requires agency websites to include a list 
of all reports posted under subsection (c) with a link to each 
report. All reports must be searchable and sortable by title, 
date of publication, receiving congressional office, statute or 
resolution that requires the report, metadata elements of the 
report, and an alpha-numeric identifier that is consistent 
across report editions. This subsection also requires all 
reports to have links to download the report and other 
information.
    Subsection (e) requires agencies to post reports to their 
websites within 30 days after the report is due to Congress.
    Subsection (f) allows agencies to change or remove a report 
or data only if the agency discusses such change or removal 
with the receiving congressional office(s), and Congress enacts 
a joint resolution authorizing the change or removal. This 
subsection authorizes technical corrections without these 
requirements.
    Subsection (g) clarifies that this bill does not interfere 
with an agency's compliance to the Freedom of Information Act 
and information exempt from public disclosure. When an agency 
redacts such information from a report, the agency must 
identify the specific exemption for the redaction.
    Subsection (h) allows a Federal agency to withhold 
information from a report if the agency reasonably sees that 
disclosure of such information would be harmful or is 
prohibited by law to disclose. The agency must consider if a 
partial disclosure of information is possible, and if so, take 
the necessary steps to separate and release any nonexempt 
information.
    Subsection (i) requires agencies to post the list of 
reports required under subsection (d) to Data.gov within 30 
days of the enactment of this bill.
    Subsection (j) clarifies that this bill does not relieve an 
agency from any other requirement to publish a congressionally-
mandated report and does not impose any additional need to 
redact any submission to or withhold information from any 
congressional office.

                   V. EVALUATION OF REGULATORY IMPACT

    Pursuant to the requirements of paragraph 11(b) of rule 
XXVI of the Standing Rules of the Senate, the Committee has 
considered the regulatory impact of this bill and determined 
that the bill will have no regulatory impact within the meaning 
of the rules. The Committee agrees with the Congressional 
Budget Office's statement that the bill contains no 
intergovernmental or private-sector mandates as defined in the 
Unfunded Mandates Reform Act (UMRA) and would impose no costs 
on state, local, or tribal governments.

             VI. CONGRESSIONAL BUDGET OFFICE COST ESTIMATE

                                     U.S. Congress,
                               Congressional Budget Office,
                                     Washington, DC, March 1, 2019.
Hon. Ron Johnson, Chairman,
 Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs,
U.S. Senate, Washington, DC.
    Dear Mr. Chairman: The Congressional Budget Office has 
prepared the enclosed cost estimate for S. 196, the Modernizing 
Congressional Reporting Act of 2019.
    If you wish further details on this estimate, we will be 
pleased to provide them. The CBO staff contact is David Hughes.
            Sincerely,
                                                Keith Hall,
                                                          Director.
    Enclosure. 
    
    

    S. 196 would require that all of the information federal 
agencies provide to the Congress be submitted in an electronic 
format. In addition, the bill would direct each agency to make 
electronically submitted information available on their 
respective public websites in a free, open, and accessible 
manner. Finally, agencies would be required to make a list of 
all information transmitted to Congress--including reports, 
data, and other materials--publicly available via data.gov.
    CBO estimates that implementing the bill would cost about 
$2 million over the 2019-2024 period. CBO expects that each of 
the 26 major executive agencies would need about 15 percent of 
the time of one federal employee at an average annual cost of 
$15,000. That time would be spent on submitting 
Congressionally-mandated reports electronically, as well as 
creating and updating an online searchable database where 
reports would be published. Any spending for those activities 
would be subject to the availability of appropriated funds.
    Enacting S. 196 would affect direct spending by some 
agencies (such as the Tennessee Valley Authority) because they 
are authorized to use receipts from the sale of goods, fees, 
and other collections to cover their operating costs. Because 
most of those agencies can adjust the amounts collected, CBO 
estimates that any net changes in direct spending by those 
agencies would be negligible.
    The CBO staff contact for this estimate is David Hughes. 
This estimate was reviewed by H. Samuel Papenfuss, Assistant 
Director for Budget Analysis.

       VII. CHANGES IN EXISTING LAW MADE BY THE BILL, AS REPORTED

    Because this legislation would not repeal or amend any 
provision of current law, it would not make changes in existing 
law within the meaning of clauses (a) and (b) of paragraph 12 
of rule XXVI of the Standing Rules of the Senate.

                                  [all]