February 7, 2020 •

GAO Issues Campaign Finance Report

United State's Government Accountability Office

On February 3, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a 74-page report discussing current federal campaign finance issues. The report, Campaign Finance: Federal Framework, Agency Roles and Responsibilities, and Perspectives, offers observations from specialists on the issues. Specifically, the […]

On February 3, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a 74-page report discussing current federal campaign finance issues.

The report, Campaign Finance: Federal Framework, Agency Roles and Responsibilities, and Perspectives, offers observations from specialists on the issues.

Specifically, the report covers the legal framework of the federal campaign finance law, various federal agencies’ roles, responsibilities, and enforcement challenges, and several perspectives on certain segments of the legal framework.

One conclusion reached is “campaign finance statutes and regulations have not kept up with the rapid expansion of campaign spending on the internet and do not regulate online political ads to the same extent as television, radio, and print ads.”

Another conclusion is that campaign finance laws related to prohibited activities for foreign nationals may be inadequate to prevent all types of foreign involvement, such as funds raised by and through 501(c) organizations or limited liability companies, which historically have not been required to publicly report their funding sources.

The report also raises the issue of differing and opposing views regarding whether the public disclosure of campaign contributions helps inform the electorate or stigmatizes those supporting unpopular candidates or organizations.

The GAO report recommends the Federal Election Commission (FEC) and the Department of Justice coordinate together to review policies and campaign finance guidance, while acknowledging the FEC currently doesn’t have a quorum to make changes to guidance.

The GAO was asked to review issues related to the enforcement of federal campaign finance laws by Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Ranking Member on the Senate Committee on Rules and Administration.

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March 10, 2017 •

On March 9, the United States Government Accountability Office (GAO) issued an analysis of federal contracting trends to Congress. The report, titled Contracting Data Analysis: Assessment of Government-wide Trends, identified overall trends in contract obligations of defense and civilian agencies […]

gaoOn March 9, the United States Government Accountability Office (GAO) issued an analysis of federal contracting trends to Congress. The report, titled Contracting Data Analysis: Assessment of Government-wide Trends, identified overall trends in contract obligations of defense and civilian agencies from fiscal year 2011 to 2015 using data from the Federal Procurement Data System-Next Generation.

The report states defense obligations to purchase goods and services decreased by over 30 percent while civilian obligations remained steady, as did the percentage of total obligations reported for competitive contracts. During this period, fixed price contracts were used for an average of 63 percent of obligations.

The GAO did not make any new recommendations in the report, but did highlight previous recommendations made to defense and civilian agencies. The report asserts the agencies “generally concurred with these recommendations and have taken or planned actions to address them.”

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March 30, 2016 •

Annual GAO Report on Federal Lobbying Released

The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) released its audit of federal lobbying compliance for 2015. For the audit, the GAO reviewed a random sample of 80 quarterly disclosure reports filed for the third and fourth quarters of calendar year 2014 […]

GAOThe U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) released its audit of federal lobbying compliance for 2015. For the audit, the GAO reviewed a random sample of 80 quarterly disclosure reports filed for the third and fourth quarters of calendar year 2014 and the first and second quarters of calendar year 2015. They also reviewed random samples of 160 LD-203 reports for the year-end 2014 and midyear 2015 reports.

Among its findings, the GAO concluded 93 percent of filers of lobbying disclosure reports were able to provide documentation to support reported income and expenses, 85 percent filed the required federal political campaign reports, and 69 percent of the reported income and expenses were properly rounded to the nearest $10,000. The audit estimates at least 21 percent of all lobbying disclosure reports did not properly disclose formerly held covered positions.

The 54 page report, released on March 25, 2016, is titled “2015 Lobbying Disclosure Observations on Lobbyists’ Compliance with Disclosure Requirements.”

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May 30, 2014 •

GAO Report on Lobbying Compliance Released

The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) released its audit of federal lobbying compliance for 2013. For the audit, the GAO reviewed a random sample of 104 quarterly disclosure reports filed for the third and fourth quarters of calendar year 2012 […]

GAO ReportThe U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) released its audit of federal lobbying compliance for 2013.

For the audit, the GAO reviewed a random sample of 104 quarterly disclosure reports filed for the third and fourth quarters of calendar year 2012 and the first and second quarters of calendar year 2013. Among its findings, the GAO concluded 96 percent of filers of lobbying disclosure reports were able to provide documentation to support reported income and expenses, 92 percent filed the required federal political campaign reports, and 67 percent of the reported income and expenses were properly rounded to the nearest $10,000. The audit also found at least 17 percent of all lobbying disclosure reports did not properly disclose formerly held covered positions.

The 56 page report, released on May 28, 2014, is titled “2013 Lobbying Disclosure Observations on Lobbyists’ Compliance with Disclosure Requirements.”

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May 23, 2014 •

GAO Issues Report on Debarment Programs

On May 21, the U.S Government Accountability Office (GAO) issued a report describing the steps taken to improve the suspension and debarment programs of some agencies with federal contracts and grants. The report, prepared for the House of Representatives Committee […]

US Government Accountability Office SealOn May 21, the U.S Government Accountability Office (GAO) issued a report describing the steps taken to improve the suspension and debarment programs of some agencies with federal contracts and grants. The report, prepared for the House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, found “the number of suspension and debarment actions government-wide has more than doubled from 1,836 in fiscal year 2009 to 4,812 in fiscal year 2013.”

In 2011, the GAO had recommended strengthening federal agency suspension programs by implementing “dedicated staff, detailed policies and procedures, and an active referral process.” The six agencies reviewed for the report had all carried out some of the previous recommendations. The GAO did not make any new recommendations in its report. The report can be found here.

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May 10, 2011 •

GAO’s 2010 Report on Lobbying Compliance

Findings Reported

A report released by the Government Accountability Office reveals disclosure reporting terminology and reporting requirements are a challenge for some lobbyists. The 2010 Lobbying Disclosure Observations on Lobbyists’ Compliance with Disclosure Requirements also found some lobbyists lacked clarity in determining what constitutes a lobbying activity versus a non-lobbying activity. Generally, however, the findings in the report, which were substantially the same as prior reports, show lobbyists as a whole complying with disclosure and reporting requirements.

The GAO is required by law to prepare reports determining the efficacy of lobbying compliance and reporting, and identify any challenges to compliance. This is their fourth report.

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April 4, 2011 •

The Government Accountability Office Publishes Lobbying Report

Findings show most of the industry is reporting properly.

The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) has released a report stating that, with a small percentage of exceptions, most lobbyists comply with the federal lobbying disclosure laws.

Here is the full text of the report from the GAO.

For a good summary of the report, read Roll Call’s article “GAO: K Street Largely Complying With Disclosure Rules” by Alex Knott.

The Roll Call article noted that the annual report to Congress is required as part of the Honest Leadership and Open Government Act. The scope of the results included analysis of disclosure reports for the fourth quarter 2009 and the first three quarters of 2010.

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