Federal Lobbying:

Federal Regulation of Lobbying Act of 1946 Is Ineffective

T-GGD-91-56: Published: Jul 16, 1991. Publicly Released: Jul 16, 1991.

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GAO discussed the Federal Regulation of Lobbying Act, to determine: (1) the amount of receipts and expenditures reported by lobbyists; (2) whether lobbyists filed timely and complete reports; (3) whether people involved in lobbying were registering and reporting as required by the act; and (4) if additional measures could improve compliance with and administration of the act. GAO noted that: (1) 6,000 lobbyists reported total receipts of $233.8 million and total expenses of $76.2 million in 1989; (2) in 1989, lobbyists submitted 62 percent of the 32,009 quarterly reports late; (3) 85 percent of a random sample of initial registrations and 94 percent of quarterly reports were incomplete; (4) about 9,800 individuals and organizations involved in lobbying were not registered as lobbyists; (5) the lobby report form and some of its instructions were confusing and ambiguous; (6) in 16 of the 22 various receipt and expenditure categories listed on quarterly report forms, lobbyists often reported receiving or spending nothing; and (7) because there was no audit or examination of filers' records, there was uncertainty on whether the information reported was accurate.

Matters for Congressional Consideration

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The 104th Congress passed this legislation (S.1060), and the President signed into law "The Lobbying Disclosure Act of 1995" (P.L. 104-65) on December 19, 1995.

    Matter: To improve the administration of the Federal Regulation of Lobbying Act, the Subcommittee on Oversight of Government Management, Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs, should work with the Clerk of the House and the Secretary of the Senate to clarify reporting instructions and simplify the reporting form.

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The 104th Congress passed this legislation (S.1060), and the President signed into law "The Lobbying Disclosure Act of 1995" (P.L. 104-65) on December 19, 1995.

    Matter: If the Subcommittee on Oversight of Government Management, Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs, wants to achieve fuller disclosure of lobbying activities, it should direct the Clerk of the House and the Secretary of the Senate to provide assistance and guidance to both current and prospective lobbyists on meeting disclosure requirements, including filing complete and timely registrations and reports.

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The 104th Congress passed this legislation (S.1060), and the President signed into law "The Lobbying Disclosure Act of 1995" (P.L. 104-65) on December 19, 1995.

    Matter: If the Subcommittee on Oversight of Government Management, Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs, wants to achieve fuller disclosure of lobbying activities, it should provide civil penalties for late or incomplete filings and nonfiling.

  4. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The 104th Congress passed this legislation (S.1060), and the President signed into law "The Lobbying Disclosure Act of 1995" (P.L. 104-65) on December 19, 1995.

    Matter: If the Subcommittee on Oversight of Government Management, Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs, wants to achieve fuller disclosure of lobbying activities, it should authorize the Clerk of the House and the Secretary of the Senate to examine and informally resolve apparent violations, require a copy of written contracts between lobbyists and their clients, examine lobbyists' records on a random basis, and promulgate regulations. If these functions are inappropriate for the Clerk of the House or Secretary of the Senate, then perhaps administration of the act should reside in the executive branch.

  5. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The 104th Congress passed this legislation (S.1060), and the President signed into law "The Lobbying Disclosure Act of 1995" (P.L. 104-65) on December 19, 1995.

    Matter: If the Subcommittee on Oversight of Government Management, Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs, wants to achieve fuller disclosure of lobbying activities, it should clarify and expand the definition of lobbying, addressing both the determination of whether a person is principally engaged in lobbying and the narrow interpretation given lobbying by the Supreme Court.

  6. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The 104th Congress passed this legislation (S.1060), and the President signed into law "The Lobbying Disclosure Act of 1995" (P.L. 104-65) on December 19, 1995.

    Matter: To improve the administration of the Federal Regulation of Lobbying Act, the Subcommittee on Oversight of Government Management, Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs, should explore with the Clerk of the House, the Secretary of the Senate, and lobbyists the reasonableness of the 10-day reporting time frame.

 

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