House to Address Spending Improprieties and Improve Reporting

Daniel Schuman
Oct 20, 2015 · 2 min read

Tomorrow, the Committee on House Administration will hold a markup on a resolution that governs member spending. As Politico explains, the “sweeping changes” to how Members of Congress spend money was prompted by stories on former Rep. Aaron Schock (R-IL), who reportedly misspent public money redecorating his office, filing inappropriate requests for travel reimbursements, and other misdeeds. Shock is under federal investigation.

The House formed a special task force, composed of Reps. Rodney Davis (R-IL) and Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), to tighten up reporting and disclosure rules. Demand Progress and representatives from other organizations were consulted by the task force as it considered recommendations.

If enacted, the resolution would:

Travel

  • Allow private/charter flights only when no commercial is alternative.
  • Prohibit private/charter flights between D.C. and anywhere else, without prior written authorization.
  • Permit private/charter flights between non-D.C. locations, but require written approval if the cost for the entire itinerary exceeds $7,500.
  • Set maximum reimbursement rates for privately-owned and privately-leased vehicles. Limit reimbursement to vehicles owned by the Member or employee.

Office

  • Require prior written approval for decorating expenses or furniture that exceeds $5,000 per item.

Reporting and Compliance

  • Instruct CAO to submit a proposal by Nov. 21 to publish House expenditure reports as digital spreadsheets, replacing the current PDF scan of tabular data. (This is a big deal for watchdogs!)
  • Instruct CAO to submit a proposal to retire “travel subsistence” as a catch-all reporting code, hopefully to be replaced with finer-grained reporting.
  • Require CAO to report on its internal controls and training regarding voucher reimbursements by Nov. 21.

We are particularly excited that the Committee will consider — and hopefully approve — the publication of House Expenditure Reports in an electronic format. Instead of publishing hundreds of pages of tables as a giant PDF, the House would now publish that information as a digital spreadsheet. (Of course, the House’s decision a few years back to publish the information online at all, even as a PDF, was a step forward.) This will allow watchdogs and others to easily review and analyze spending information.

We are still digesting the other proposals, but they are a welcome improvement. We commend the hard work of Reps. Davis and Lofgren and look forward to tomorrow’s meeting.

Daniel Schuman

Written by

@DemandProgress policy director & @CongressData co-founder. +1 for #opengov, #civictech, #smartergov, and serial commas. Opinions are mine, all mine. Mwahaha.

Demand Progress

Updates from the DP Team

Daniel Schuman

Written by

@DemandProgress policy director & @CongressData co-founder. +1 for #opengov, #civictech, #smartergov, and serial commas. Opinions are mine, all mine. Mwahaha.

Demand Progress

Updates from the DP Team

Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight. Watch
Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox. Explore
Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium — and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month. Upgrade

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store