Governmental Oversight

Getting better results for less money 

As the senior Democrat on the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, ensuring the federal government develops a wiser and more effective management strategy is one of my top priorities. Our growing budget deficits demand us to be better stewards of taxpayer dollars. We need to take a tough and honest look at how we can better manage the scarce resources that taxpayers entrust to the federal government. An important part of that is conducting oversight of federal agencies and ensuring they have the resources, funding and tools they need operate more efficiently and more effectively.

Eliminating improper payments across the federal government

Since I first became a United States Senator, I’ve focused on identifying and eliminating wasteful and fraudulent payments by government agencies. In 2012, I worked with a bipartisan group of Senators to introduce the Improper Payments Elimination and Recovery Improvement Act. This bill – now law – provides the administration and federal agency leaders with the tools they need to proactively combat the estimated $144 billion in avoidable payment errors that federal agencies make each year. 

Although we’ve made great strides in curbing wasteful spending in recent years, there is still more we can do to ensure that the scarce resources we put into federal programs are not wasted or misappropriated. That’s why, in 2018, I reintroduced the Stopping Improper Payments to Dead People Act, my bipartisan bill that would allow all appropriate federal changes to have access to the Social Security Administration (SSA)’s database of individuals who are reported to have died. By expanding federal agencies’ access to that database, we stop millions of taxpayer dollars from being spent on individuals who are deceased.

Promoting good government

Ensuring a cost-effective and accurate 2020 Census

The decennial Census is one of the few governmental activities required by the Constitution, and it’s arguably one of the most important functions of our federal government. The population data collected by the Census determines the apportionment of seats in Congress, it determines how hundreds of billions of dollars in government funds are allocated across federal agencies and programs, and businesses large and small rely on the data to drive their decisions. However, over the years, the cost to plan, modernize and conduct a decennial Census has ballooned. The 2010 Census cost taxpayers $13 billion, largely due to a series of avoidable management failures within the Census Bureau, which included badly outdated technology and operational inefficiencies.

Ensuring that the 2020 Census is both cost-effective and accurate is in the utmost interest of the American people. We need the Census to be able to collect population data that accurately reflects the American people and their communities. But taxpayers shouldn’t have to foot another inexcusably exorbitant bill.

Improving presidential transitions

Since our nation’s founding, one of the cornerstones of the American democracy has been the peaceful transition between presidential administrations. It’s critical to our democratic system and to our national security that transitions between outgoing and incoming presidential administrations are orderly, so that our president-elect can hit the ground running as Commander in Chief on day one in the Oval Office.

In 2015, I introduced the Edward “Ted” Kaufman and Michael Leavitt Presidential Transitions Improvements Act of 2015, which improved upon the Presidential Transition Act of 1963 and put best practices from those campaigns into statute. In 2017, I teamed up with Senator Warren and Congressman Elijah Cummings to introduce legislation that would continue to improve upon our country’s presidential transitions process. Our bill would require the transition teams for every president-elect to develop an ethics plan that guards against any potential conflicts of interest among the incoming administration, and it would also improve the vetting process for nominees and preserve the integrity of our executive branch.

Protecting government ethics 

Conflicts of interest and potential conflicts of interest pose a serious threat to administrations – undermining their credibility among the American people and also putting our national security in jeopardy as administration officials and federal servants put themselves at risk for blackmail and other forms of targeting. Over the years, I’ve stayed focused on protecting government ethics because the American people deserve to know how their hard-earned taxpayer dollars are being allocated in spent in Washington, and why. Now, perhaps more than ever, I’ve continued to conduct robust oversight on the Trump administration to ensure that fundamental standards for ethics are met, and fundamental practices are followed. 

Ensuring a more effective federal workforce

Providing federal employees with the tools and resources they need to effectively serve the American people

Over the years I’ve partnered with both Democrats and Republicans in Congress to ensure that our federal workforce has the tools and resources needed to perform their missions effectively. In 2017, I worked with Republican Senator Rob Portman to pass the Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) Modernization Act, which helps to ensure that our federal employees have additional options for managing their retirement savings. This is not only good for federal employees and their families, but also for the long term health of the TSP. 

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