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Report: OMB Lacks Transparency When Reporting Agency Fees, Collections

1 min read

The Government Accountability Office found that the Office of Management and Budget is not providing publicly available, comprehensive data that identifies hundreds of billions of dollars it annually collects in fees, fines and penalties. GAO issued a report on Thursday showing the lack of government-wide data from OMB, which could help Congress identify a certain agency’s performance and the trends in collections. 

Such data includes amounts of specific penalties that would increase government transparency and improve oversight of agency activities or programs, officials said. Other problems found in OMB’s collections data include lack of publicly available information, unnecessary fees included to the office’s report and exclusion of useful fee collections. 

“OMB doesn't disclose the limitation that the total may exclude some fees and include other collections that are not fees,” GAO said. “As a result, some users of the data are likely unaware of the potential for the total fees to be overestimated or underestimated.”

GAO provided a set of recommendations to help OMB address concerns over its fee collections reporting across the government. The watchdog said OMB should improve its reporting on fees, penalties, update instructions to federal agencies to review accounts designated as containing fees and disclose limitations in the reported data. OMB did not respond to GAO’s recommendations.

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