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Congress passed the Access to Congressionally Mandated Reports Act (ACMRA) as part of the 2023 defense authorization bill — and many including FGI cheered!
This week, the collection of these important reports came one step closer to reality as the White House Office of Management and Budget released detailed guidance for agencies to implement the ACMRA starting in October, 2023. The Federal News Network has more context. In a nutshell, “starting on Oct.16, anytime an agency is drafting a legally-required report to Congress, they’ll also need to prepare to send it to the Government Publishing Office to be hosted in a new publicly-accessible web portal GPO is building.” GPO has also announced its work on this important project for government transparency. This will also be a boon to the Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP) as thousands of Congressionally mandated reports make their way into depository library catalogs and collections.
My great hope is that this will be a template going forward for how executive agencies can work with GPO to bring their publications and data into the National Collection of U.S. Government Public Information where it can be collected, described, preserved and given broad public access via the internet and through the federal depository library network.
The Access to Congressionally Mandated Reports Act (ACMRA) H.R. 4631 was introduced yesterday by Representative Mike Quigley. If passed, it will require that all Congressionally mandated reports be deposited in a publicly accessible database maintained by the GPO. For more background, see Daniel Schuman’s writeup and background. The Washington Post wrote about the problem a few years ago titled “Unrequired reading.” Here’s the ACRMA bill text. 38 organizations, including FGI, wrote a public letter endorsing the bill.
The most interesting piece in the bill to me — well other than the requirement of executive agencies to deposit ALL mandated reports with GPO! — is section 4 subsection b, which directs OMB to issue guidance to agencies on implementing the act. My hope is that this is another opportunity to reform OMB circular A-130, which we here at FGI have suggested could be updated to better represent the needs of libraries and the FDLP.
The Access to Congressionally Mandated Reports Act was introduced yesterday in the House and Senate, thanks to the tremendous leadership of Rep. Mike Quigley (D-IL) and Sens. Ron Portman (R-OH) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN). The bipartisan bill (read it here) requires:
all reports to Congress that are required by law to be published online in a central repository, and Congress to keep a list of all of its reporting requirements and check whether agencies have submitted reports on time.
ACMRA is important because it improves the legislative ecosystem for high quality information. In short, it empowers Congressional staff to do their jobs and the public to hold the government accountable.