Comments on S. 1969

B-206391: Published: Jul 2, 1982. Publicly Released: Jul 2, 1982.

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GAO was asked to comment on S. 1969, a proposed bill which would prohibit the use of appropriations to pay certain lobbying costs. Although there are presently a number of legal prohibitions against the use of appropriated funds by executive agencies and departments for lobbying activities, they have shortcomings that reduce their effectiveness. Despite some deficiencies, one of the most useful antilobbying provisions is a restriction contained in the Treasury, Postal Service and General Government Appropriation Act which applies to appropriations contained in all appropriation acts in a given year. Certain other appropriation acts contain individual antilobbying appropriation restrictions applicable only to appropriations contained in them. As currently drafted, S. 1969 is directed toward the prohibition of letterwriting campaigns and appears to permit the use of appropriated funds for all other forms of lobbying. GAO endorsed the objective of the bill and believes that it should be amended to: (1) include prohibitions against other types of lobbying activity; (2) prohibit on-duty executive branch officials who are in a pay status from making speeches, appearing on news and talk shows, and writing articles for the media urging the public to contact their congressional representatives, either in support of or in opposition to, pending legislative measures; and (3) prohibit Federal grant and cooperative agreement recipients from expending appropriated funds for lobbying. GAO does not believe that paperwork and regulatory burdens would be significantly increased by the requirements of the bill, and recordkeeping requirements on non-Federal organizations could be minimized if the Office of Management and Budget were required to promulgate Government-wide regulations establishing uniform recordkeeping requirements.

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