The Platts Plan

The returning chairman of the House Government Reform Committee's federal financial oversight subcommittee is planning legislation to cut government waste.

House Reform Committee

A heap of federal financial paperwork isn't evidence of close oversight. Neither is an army of agency number-crunchers pulling off another all-nighter. And a mass of legislation containing superseded code and redundant reporting requirements that dates back more than two decades means it is time for Congress to act.

Enter Rep. Todd Platts (R-Pa.), back in Congress for a third term. The returning chairman of the House Government Reform Committee's federal financial oversight subcommittee, Platts is gearing up for the 109th Congress by planning legislation to cut government waste.

"We don't want to play 'Gotcha'. That's not my interest at all," Platts said. "It's about where do we need improvement and how do we achieve that improvement."

In the coming months, Platts is planning a series of hearings likely to culminate in his most ambitious piece of legislation to date — a yet-unnamed act that rationalizes and consolidates existing financial oversight legislation into a single law.

About a dozen laws passed in waves since the late 1970s dictate what agency officials must do to keep their financial status healthy. The roll call includes the Debt Improvement Act of 1982, the Chief Financial Officers Act of 1990, the Debt Collection Act of 1996, the Federal Financial Management Improvement Act of 1996, and others.

As each successive law filled in gaps, it added layers of overlapping code. Combined, the financial oversight acts amount to 800 pages of dense legal language.

Even if financial managers successfully navigate the maze, the financial reports they produce may not achieve the intended results. "It's no use to produce a report that gets printed and sits on a shelf somewhere," Platts said. "Yet we're still spending time and money to produce them."

Jeff Steinhoff, the Government Accountability Office's managing director of financial management and assurance, also said it is time to review the range of existing laws with an eye to reform. "I second the chairman's view that we need to step back," he said. "To go back and rationalize, that makes a lot of sense."

Internal controls on financial management are also in need of renewed emphasis, Platts said. A danger exists that controls have "maybe been lost in the shuffle some as new acts are passed," he said. "A manager ought to be able to say where we stand today, not just at the end of the year."

Although Office of Management and Budget officials released a revised circular in late December requiring federal officials to improve how they document and test internal financial controls, consolidating the existing mandates will ensure that those changes become permanent, said Michael Hettinger, staff director of Platts' subcommittee.

"You want to put that foundation there so the statute is always enhancing [OMB circulars], so there's a floor," he said. Not on the agenda, however, is compelling agencies to perform annual internal control audits as Homeland Security Department officials must do, Hettinger added.

Platts said he plans to take a measured pace in getting his consolidation legislation through Congress. Getting it to the president's desk will be a two- or three-year project, he said. "We want to get it right, which means getting a lot of feedback from all the partners in this effort."

More immediately, Platts will focus on a re-introduced version of his program assessment legislation. This new version of a bill Platts first proposed in February 2004 mandates that OMB and agency officials perform program evaluations at least every five years.

"It has a lot of legwork behind it," Platts said, including provisions suggested by Democratic colleagues to ensure that agencies have a clear role in the evaluation process. The assessment data would also now be transparent and incorporated into the president's annual budget submission and posted on the Web.

"Patience is a virtue, and persistence is always important," Platts said, referring to passing the assessment legislation.

NEXT STORY: “Did you hear...”

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.