Time to Eliminate Congress’s Yearly “Dog Fur” Report?
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The Fiscal Times
June 26, 2014

Congress is always demanding efficiency from the executive branch of the federal Government, but a release from the Obama administration on Wednesday points out that a lot of the waste in Washington actually originates on Capitol Hill.

The Office of Management and Budget released a list of 74 reports that various Federal agencies recommend be either consolidated or cut altogether – the majority of them demanded by Congress itself. That comes in addition to 376 outdated or duplicative reports and plans that the Obama Administration brought to Congress’ attention just two years ago. 

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“This action represents another step in the President’s Management Agenda and overall effort to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the Federal government,” wrote OMB’s Deputy Director for Management Beth Cobert in the Wednesday press release.

Wednesday’s list contained requests to eliminate such things as reports on the nation’s “distant water tuna fleet,” and hard-copy versions of the import tariff schedule, which is usually out of date days after publication.

However, it is not quite as comedic as it’s predecessor. In 2012, the Department of Homeland Security recommended putting an end to their annual “Dog and Cat Fur report,” which found only a single violation of the Dog and Cat Fur Protection Act in the five years prior. The Department of Agriculture suggested cutting its report on “Timber supply and demand in Southeastern Alaska.” Their justification: “[The Department] is uncertain as to whether enough congressional interest in this report exists to warrant its submission.”

To their credit, some lawmakers on Capitol Hill appear to have noticed the problem. Mark Warner (D-VA) and Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) have introduced legislation called the “Government Reports Elimination Act of 2014.” In a March 2014 joint press release, they claim the bill would remove or consolidate over 300 reports deemed “unnecessary, duplicative or outdated” by more than two-dozen federal agencies.

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“All too frequently Congress adds more reporting requirements without checking to see if they overlap with existing ones,” Warner said in the statement. “If these unnecessary but required reports are wasting staff time and resources and are sitting on a shelf collecting dust, then it’s long past time for them to be eliminated or consolidated.”

Representatives Darrell Issa (R-CA) and Gerry Connolly (D-VA) are introducing a bipartisan bill on the House side.

Top Ten Eliminated Reports
AgencyReportReason for elimination
Department of EducationEvaluation of a program to train teachers to help disabled children.Congress unfunded the program
Department of EducationEvaluation of the Adjunct Teacher Corps program.Congress unfunded the program
Department of EducationReport on the Excellence in Economic Education initiative.Program was eliminated in 2012.
Department of EducationReport on the National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and IntegrityAll the data is already available in online reports.
Department of EducationReports on DOE's spending on "local flexibility demonstration agreements."DOE hasn't used this authority since 2009.
Department of Homeland SecurityCoast Guard's annual fisheries enforcement planThe report is essentially the same every year.
Department of Homeland SecurityCoast Guard's annual report on distant water tuna fleetThe report is essentially the same every year.
Executive Office of the PresidentA report on waivers granted for companies to do business in SudanNo waiver has even been requested.
International Trade Commission (USITC)Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (hard-copy version)The report is out-of-date within days of being issued.
National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationAstronaut Health CareThe report was requested as a reaction to a single, unspecified incident, which was found to be an "isolated case."

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Reilly Dowd is a senior writer at The Fiscal Times. Based in Washington, D.C., she covers national politics, economic policy, technology, and elections. She has previously worked at Al Jazeera America, SnagFilms, ABC News, CNN and in the Obama White House.