Issue Briefs

Following are sections of a report on a House spending bill addressing steps the bill would take in response to the GSA and IRS scandals.

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An indecent amount of spending on training, travel, and employeeawards occurred during fiscal year 2010 when agencies suchas the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the General ServicesAdministration (GSA) received a record high of appropriated fundsfollowing on the heels of the American Recovery and ReinvestmentAct. Similar to the curse of winning the lottery, agency staff celebratedtheir good fortune with ceremonies, food, travel, and presidentialsuites instead of extending better service to American taxpayers,who were struggling with elevated unemployment levels.

Both IRS and GSA say they have changed their ways and point tonumerous reforms that they have implemented. It is no coincidence,however, that these reforms coincide with the discretionaryspending reductions enacted over the previous three fiscal years.

The bill reduces overall agency funding, specifically limits the useof IRS funds for conferences until the TIGTA’s conference recommendationsare implemented, and requires all IGs funded in thebill to do a review of agency conference spending.

INTERNAL REVENUE SERVICE

The Committee is disquieted by IRS’ wasteful spending in fiscalyear 2010 and inappropriate singling out of certain tax-exemptgroups based on their political beliefs. The IRS’ troubles are neithersuperficial nor simple. The Committee has taken steps tobegin reforming the agency by reducing the IRS’ appropriation by24 percent compared to the fiscal year 2013 continuing resolutionlevel, which is $3.9 billion, or 30 percent, below the budget request.

In addition, the bill includes the following terms and conditions:* Withholds 10 percent of the IRS’ already reduced enforcementappropriation until all of the recommendations contained theTreasury Inspector General for Tax Administration’s (TIGTA) reporton inappropriate criteria being used to identify tax-exempt applicationsfor review are fully implemented.

* Prohibits funds for conferences until all of TIGTA’s recommendationsregarding conferences are implemented.

* Prohibits funds for employee bonuses and awards until theIRS, with the assistance of the Office of Personnel Management,have determined the IRS’ employee recognition programs actuallyimprove employee performance and productivity.

* Requires extensive reporting on IRS spending.

* Prohibits funds for the production of videos that have not beenreviewed for cost, topic, tone, and purpose and certified to be appropriate.

* Provides TIGTA with $5,462,000 above the budget request toenhance its audit and investigative oversight of the IRS.

The Committee continues to be concerned with the IRS’ role inimplementation of the Affordable Care Act and the individual mandatein particular. At a time when the IRS has demonstrated littleability to self-police or self-correct, the IRS is on the precipice havingeven more authority over policing Americans’ health coverage.

The Committee finds this expansion of IRS authority to be unacceptableand, therefore, prohibits funding to implement the individualmandate and prohibits transfers from the Department ofHealth and Human Services to fund the IRS’ implementation of theAffordable Care Act.

GENERAL SERVICES ADMINISTRATION

In order to prevent the appalling activities that culminated inthe General Services Administration’s (GSA) Public Buildings Service2010 Western Regions Conference and promote improved managementin the GSA’s facilities portfolio, the bill:

* Prohibits GSA from spending $2.4 billion of funds estimated tobe collected in the Federal Buildings Fund.

* Restructures GSA appropriation accounts to separate the costof administrative expenses from program activities.

* Reduces obligations in the Federal Buildings Fund for administrativeexpenses by 15 percent compared to the request.

* Requires GSA to provide quarterly reports on its property portfolioand space utilitization.

* Provides funding to consolidate underutilized Federal facilitieswhen the project will reduce future costs to tenant agencies.

* Prohibits funds for awards and bonuses until a comprehensivereview of GSA’s employee recognition programs is complemented.

* Requires reporting on employee training activities.

* Requires reporting on the use of the Working Capital Fundand limits spending from the Fund.

* Increases funding for the GSA Inspector General by $5,092,000above the request.

ADDITIONAL TRANSPARENCY AND ACCOUNTABILITY MEASURES

* Makes the Office of Financial Research (OFR) and the ConsumerFinancial Protection Bureau (CFPB) subject to the appropriationsprocess next year.

* Requires additional reporting on mandatory expenses fromOFR, CFPB, the Office of Financial Stability and the JudgmentFund.

* Includes a bill-wide prohibition on travel, conferences and employeeawards that are not in compliance with laws and regulations.

* Requires agency Inspectors General to report whether agenciesfunded in the bill have appropriate procedures in place to ensurecompliance with laws and regulations on travel, conferences, andawards.

* Increases funds above the request by $7,500,000 for the Recoveryand Accountability Oversight Board to continue oversight ofstimulus and Hurricane Sandy spending, and develop tools thatcan be used government-wide to detect and prevent waste andfraud.

* Fully funds the request for the Privacy and Civil LibertiesOversight Board.