Grants Oversight and New Efficiency Actby Representative Tim Walberg
Posted on 2016-01-11
WALBERG. Mr. Speaker, I thank the chairman.
Mr. Speaker, I rise today in support of S. 1115, the Grants Oversight and New Efficiency Act, or as we call it, the GONE Act. As the lead House sponsor of this bill, I am proud of the bipartisan, bicameral effort that has gone into this legislation.
I especially want to thank the Senate champion of this bill, my colleague in the Senate, Senator Deb Fischer, and also my Michigan colleague, Congresswoman Brenda Lawrence, along with the staff who have worked so hard to bring this bill to the floor today.
Last year, we marked up this legislation in the Oversight and Government Reform Committee and passed it on to the House floor. After some additional fine-tuning made by our colleagues in the Senate, I am pleased to have the opportunity to see the GONE Act take the final step toward becoming law.
Even as we debate this bill today, the Federal Government is racking up service fees to administer thousands of expired empty grant accounts--costing taxpayers millions of dollars per year. I introduced the GONE Act to bring some common sense to the grant management process and require Federal agencies to finally take action to identify these accounts with a zero balance which should be closed out.
Specifically, the GONE Act will direct agencies to work with the Department of Health and Human Services to identify the total number of grant awards that remain open but have been expired for 2 years or more. HHS was chosen for this role because of the work it has done in closing out expired accounts--good work--and for its role as the agency which houses the Payment Management System.
In addition to the total number of expired grants, the bill requires each agency to explain to Congress why the 30 oldest grants that remain open have not been closed. The bill also directs inspectors general for certain larger grant-making agencies to conduct a risk assessment to determine if a further review of that agency's grant [[Page H246]] closeout process is necessary. All of this information will give agencies and Congress valuable insight into issues that agencies face when it comes to a timely closeout of grants.
It is my hope that this information will inform future efforts to streamline the grant's lifecycle, specifically the closeout process. In fact, S. 1115 requires OMB and HHS to submit a report to Congress on potential legislative reforms that are necessary to improve the grants lifecycle. I look forward to hearing from OMB and HHS on this topic, and I thank those agencies for the feedback they have offered on this bill.
For months, Members of the House and Senate on both sides of the aisle have worked to develop this bill into one that will serve to advance the efficiency of the grants process. OMB, HHS, and the inspector general community have all provided helpful comments as we worked to finalize this legislation, and I am grateful for their assistance.
Mr. Speaker, spending taxpayer dollars on expired and empty grant accounts is the definition of government waste. I urge my colleagues to support this bill today and send the GONE Act to the President's desk.