H.R. 4631 (112th): Government Spending Accountability Act of 2012

112th Congress, 2011–2013. Text as of Sep 11, 2012 (Reported by House Committee).

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Union Calendar No. 479

112th CONGRESS

2d Session

H. R. 4631

[Report No. 112–664]

IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

April 25, 2012

(for himself, Mr. Long, Mr. Michaud, and Mr. Paul) introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform

September 11, 2012

Additional sponsors: Mr. Loebsack, Mr. Burgess, Mr. Landry, Mr. Luetkemeyer, and Mr. Kelly

September 11, 2012

Reported with an amendment, committed to the Committee of the Whole House on the State of the Union, and ordered to be printed

Strike out all after the enacting clause and insert the part printed in italic


A BILL

To require quarterly reports on agency conferences and meetings, and for other purposes.


1.

Short title

This Act may be cited as the Government Spending Accountability Act of 2012 or the GSA Act of 2012.

2.

Agency reports on conferences and meetings

(a)

Quarterly reports required

Not less frequently than quarterly, the head of each agency shall submit a detailed, itemized report to the relevant committee of Congress on any conference or meeting that occurs at a location for which the agency must pay a fee or at a location not owned, leased, or otherwise controlled by the Federal Government and—

(1)

that is attended by 50 or more employees; or

(2)

for which the total cost is $100,000 or more.

(b)

Exclusions

Subsection (a) shall not apply with respect to any conference or meeting that the head of an agency determines—

(1)

that reporting on such conference or meeting would not be in the interest of national security; or

(2)

is necessary because of an imminent threat to health or safety or other emergency.

(c)

Definitions

In this section:

(1)

Agency

The term agency has the meaning given that term in section 551 of title 5, United States Code.

(2)

Employee

The term employee has the meaning given that term in section 2105 of title 5, United States Code.

1.

Short title

This Act may be cited as the Government Spending Accountability Act of 2012 or the GSA Act of 2012.

2.

Limits and transparency for travel and conference spending

(a)

Amendment

Chapter 57 of title 5, United States Code, is amended by inserting after section 5711 the following:

5712.

Limits and transparency for travel and conference spending

(a)

Definitions

In this section:

(1)

Conference

The term conference means a meeting, retreat, seminar, symposium, or event to which an employee travels 25 miles or more to attend, that—

(A)

is held for consultation, education, discussion, or training; and

(B)

is not held entirely at a Government facility.

(2)

International conference

The term international conference means a conference occurring outside the United States attended by representatives of—

(A)

the Government of the United States; and

(B)

any foreign government, international organization, or foreign nongovernmental organization.

(b)

International conference rule

An agency may not pay the travel expenses for more than 50 employees of that agency who are stationed in the United States, for any international conference, unless the Secretary of State determines that attendance for such employees is in the national interest.

(c)

Report on travel expenses required

At the beginning of each quarter of each fiscal year, each agency shall post on the public website of that agency a report on each conference for which the agency paid travel expenses during the preceding 3 months that includes—

(1)

the itemized expenses paid by the agency, including travel expenses, and any agency expenditures to otherwise support the conference;

(2)

the primary sponsor of the conference;

(3)

the location of the conference;

(4)

in the case of a conference for which that agency was the primary sponsor, a statement that—

(A)

describes the cost to the agency of selecting the specific conference venue;

(B)

describes why the location was selected, including a justification for such selection;

(C)

demonstrates the cost efficiency of the location;

(D)

provides a cost benefit analysis of holding a conference rather than conducting a teleconference; and

(E)

describes any financial support or other assistance from a private entity used to pay or defray the costs of the conference, and for each case where such support or assistance was used, the head of the agency shall include a certification that there is no conflict of interest resulting from such support or assistance;

(5)

the date of the conference;

(6)

a brief explanation of how the participation of employees from such agency at the conference advanced the mission of the agency;

(7)

the title of any employee, or any individual who is not a Federal employee, whose travel expenses or other conference expenses were paid by the agency; and

(8)

the total number of individuals whose travel expenses or other conference expenses were paid by the agency.

(d)

Format and publication of report

Each report posted on the public website under subsection (c) shall—

(1)

be in a searchable electronic format; and

(2)

remain on that website for at least 5 years after the date of posting.

.

(b)

Technical and conforming amendment

The table of sections for chapter 57 of title 5, United States Code, is amended by inserting after the item relating to section 5711 the following:

5712. Limits and transparency for travel and conference spending.

.

(c)

Annual travel expense limits

(1)

In general

In the case of each of fiscal years 2013 through 2017, an agency (as defined under section 5701 of title 5, United States Code) may not make, or obligate to make, expenditures for travel expenses, in an aggregate amount greater than 70 percent of the aggregate amount of such expenses for fiscal year 2010.

(2)

Identification of travel expenses

(A)

Responsibilities

Not later than December 31, 2012, and after consultation with the Administrator of General Services and the Director of the Administrative Office of the United States Courts, the Director of the Office of Management and Budget shall establish guidelines for the determination of what expenses constitute travel expenses for purposes of this subsection. The guidelines shall identify specific expenses, and classes of expenses, that are to be treated as travel expenses.

(B)

Exemption for military travel

The guidelines required under subparagraph (A) shall exclude military travel expenses in determining what expenses constitute travel expenses. Military travel expenses shall include travel expenses involving military combat, the training or deployment of uniformed military personnel, and such other travel expenses as determined by the Director of the Office of Management and Budget, in consultation with the Administrator of General Services and the Director of the Administrative Office of the United States Courts.

(d)

Conference transparency and spending limits

(1)

Definitions

In this subsection:

(A)

Agency

The term agency has the meaning given that term under section 5701 of title 5, United States Code.

(B)

Conference

The term conference has the meaning given that term under section 5712(a) of that title 5, United States Code (as added by subsection (a)).

(2)

Public availability of conference materials

Each agency shall post on the public website of that agency detailed information on any presentation made by any employee of that agency at a conference (except to the extent the head of an agency excludes such information for reasons of national security) including—

(A)

the prepared text of any verbal presentation made; and

(B)

any visual, digital, video, or audio materials presented, including photographs, slides, and audio-visual recordings.

(3)

Limits on amount expended on a conference

(A)

In general

An agency may not expend more than $500,000 to support a single conference.

(B)

Rule of construction

Nothing in this paragraph shall be construed to preclude an agency from receiving financial support or other assistance from a private entity to pay or defray the costs of a conference the total cost of which exceeds $500,000.

September 11, 2012

Reported with an amendment, committed to the Committee of the Whole House on the State of the Union, and ordered to be printed