McCaskill Shines Spotlight on Outdated Agency Escaping Accountability
Senator questions need for an agency using loophole to evade regulations, performing duplicative services, McCaskill and Coburn have teamed up to introduce bipartisan bill eliminating the federal agency
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator and former Missouri State Auditor Claire McCaskill today shone a spotlight on a federal agency performing duplicative services and escaping accountability—an agency McCaskill is working with a Republican colleague to abolish.
McCaskill’s hearing focused on the National Technical Information Service (NTIS), as she questioned whether the agency’s mission of compiling and selling government reports—many of which are available online—to other federal agencies and to the public, continues to be viable in the internet age.
McCaskill, Chairman of the Subcommittee on Financial & Contracting Oversight, also grilled witnesses on how the agency allows private companies to provide services for the federal government for payment, apparently acting as a pass-through to avoid the scrutiny and rules that apply to formal federal contracts. These services are also already available to federal agencies through individual contracts or the General Services Administration.
“NTIS has been trying to profit by selling documents that have little, if anything to do with scientific or technical information, like the Armed Forces Recipe Book and even my colleague Dr. Coburn’s Wastebook, which actually includes NTIS as a prime example of wasteful government,” McCaskill said at the hearing. “Both of these documents are, of course, available for free online and easy to find with a quick search. The questions these examples raise, of course, are why anyone would buy publications from NTIS when they are available for free elsewhere on the Internet?”
Click HERE for photos of today’s hearing.
While NTIS remains the only permanent repository for scientific and technical reports, its library services have largely been made obsolete by the Internet. Approximately 74 percent of the reports NTIS archived between 1990 and 2011 were readily available from other websites and 95 percent of those were available free of charge.
McCaskill recently joined Republican Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma—who also participated in today’s hearing—to introduce the Let Me Google That For You Act, a bipartisan, bicameral bill to eliminate NTIS. With a money-losing profit model, NTIS has been selling other services to government agencies, all of which are offered by other federal agencies for lower fees.
McCaskill continued: “There are important questions to discuss about the NTIS and its future. But they represent even more important questions about our government. Can we as a Congress come together and cut bureaucracy where it is obsolete and duplicative? I’m hopeful, because Dr. Coburn and I have come together to cosponsor bipartisan legislation, the Let Me Google That For You Act that would begin to address some of these problems at NTIS.”
The Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee also recently approved a bipartisan McCaskill-backed bill to eliminate unnecessary reports compiled by federal government agencies. In December 2012, the Office of Management and Budget published a list of 376 Congressionally mandated reports identified as outdated, duplicative, or serving little use.
Visit mccaskill.senate.gov/accountability to read more about McCaskill’s fight for stronger accountability in Washington.