Comments on H.R. 5259

Published by the Government Accountability Office on 1971-03-16.

Below is a raw (and likely hideous) rendition of the original report. (PDF)

                                WASHINGTOR',D. C. 20548

                                                                       FOR RELEASEON DELIVERY
                                                                       Expected at 1O:OO a.m. EST
                                                                       March 16, 1971


                          ELMERB. STAATS, COMPTROLLERGENERAL
                                 OF TH.EUNITED STATES


                                    OFFICIAL CONDWCT
                                  HOUSEOF REPRESER!J!ATIVES

                            H.R. 5259, 92 CONGRESS
              The proposed Legislative Activities Disclosure                    Act

Mr. Chairman and Members of the Cormnittee:

      We appreciate         the opportunity       to appear before your Committee to

give you our views and answer your questions                   on H.R. 5259.
      The current         law, the Federal Regulation          of Lobbying Act was enacted
in 1946 and was designed to require                public   disclosure     of certain       activities

of those persons engaged in lobbying.                   Using criminal     sanctions      to effect
compliance,    that Act sought disclosure               of lobbying    activities       by imposing

certain   record keeping,         registration,        and reporting     requirements       upon
persons within      its     purview.    The Act lodged administrative               responsibility

with the,Clerk      of the House of Representatives              and the Secretary          of the
.   .
        -.                       0

         Senate.       According to a report          of your Committee, House Report Xo. 91-1803,

         the current       law has, without       exception,.    been described     as a thoroughly
         deficient       law.    In addressing this       deficiency,    your Committee has drafted
         and presented H.R. 5259 as a tentative                 measure for discussion       purposes             1

         against      which concerned persons could evaluate             and present their        positions.
                   Under H.R. 5259, the Federal Regulation              of Lobbying Act would be

         repealed and replaced with a broader measure to be under the administra-
         tion      of the Comptroller       General of the United States.           In reporting      on
         earlier      measures that would have simply transferred              responsibility        for

         the administration           of the Federal Regulation         of Lobbying Act from the
         Secretary       of the Senate and Clerk of the House of Representatives                   to the
         Comptroller       General, we have advised that we would interpose                  no objection
         to such transfer           so long as our Office       performed its role as an agency of
         the Congress.          We note that under the administration             section    of H.R. 5259;
         section       11, rules and regulations         proposed for promulgation          by the.Comp-
         troller       General are to be presented to two named Committees.of                   the Congres:!
         for review and that,           if neither     Committee disapproves       such rules and regue
         lations      within    a stated period they shall         take effect.      In providing      for
         legislative       rather     than judicial     or administrative     review of proposed rules
         and regulations         we vie,? this    provision      as manifesting     a clear intention
         that all       duties to be performed by the Comptroller             General under H.R. 5259
         shall      be performed by him as an agent for the Congress.                 Accordingly,         and
         while we would not seek responsibility                 for the administration        of the pro-
         posed Act, we will           accept such responsibility         if the Congress desires,

    ,-    “..
                          In order          to carry         out my responsibilities                         under     this      bill,      it     is

                envisioned           that     I would     have need for authority to employ one staff
                &ember it        a, level           not to exceed level IV of the Federal Executive   Salary

                Schedule.            While      reserving            to myself       all         final       authority,          I would          delegate

                to this       person         maximum discretion                  to handle               overall      administration               and to

                design,       draft         and enforce             regulations.            Such person               would      also    hav,e authority

                to communicate               with     the appropriate               committees               and persons           effected.             It

                is anticipated               that     the mode of operation                       would       primarily          be on a complaint


                          Section       11 provides             the authority              for      the promulgation                  of needful

                rules      and regulations.                   These rules           and regulations                   are required               to be

                published        in the Federal                 Register         and interested                    persons      are given          thirty

                days to submit               comments thereon               after     publication.                    At the expiration                  of

                this      thirty-day          period,         the Comptroiler               General            is required            to forward              com-

                ments received               with     the text          of the proposed                   rules      and regulations               within
     i-         sixty      days to your              Committee          and to the Senate                    Committee          on Rules          and

                Administration.                 If    neither          Committee      by majority                   vote     disapproves           within

                thirty       legislative             days,      the rules          and regulations                   take      effect.

                          Presumably,           during        the sixty-day           period              which      follows       the thirty            days

                of publication,                the Comptroller              General         will--if               he finds       himself          in agree-
                ment with        any of the comments received                          --have             authority          to revise           the

                published        rules         and regulations.                  However,           the bill          does not specifically

                so provide           and we feel             that      section      1 1 needs clarification                        to specifically

                provide       this      authority.              The Comptroller                  General           would     submit      the comments

                received        and the rules                and regulations               with          such revisions            as he m+y provide

                for      committee          approval.

      Section 16 authorizes     the appropriation       to the Comptroller        General

of such sums as may be necessary to carry out his responsibilities                   under

the Act.     While we are not prepared at this         time to offer    any meaningful

estimate     of man hours translated     into dollar    amounts because meaningful
estimates must be based on an experience          factor   after   several months

operation,     it is assumed that the administration        of this Act will        probably
require    some increase   in my staff    and appropriation.

      Mr. Chairman, this      completes my prepared statement.           I will    be happy
to answer any questions      and to provide additional         information    as desired.