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113th Congress                                                   Report
                        HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
 2d Session                                                     113-358

======================================================================



 
                   TAXPAYER TRANSPARENCY ACT OF 2014

                                _______
                                

 February 25, 2014.--Committed to the Committee of the Whole House on 
            the State of the Union and ordered to be printed

                                _______
                                

   Mr. Issa, from the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, 
                        submitted the following

                              R E P O R T

                             together with

                            ADDITIONAL VIEWS

                        [To accompany H.R. 3308]

      [Including cost estimate of the Congressional Budget Office]

    The Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, to whom 
was referred the bill (H.R. 3308) to require a Federal agency 
to include language in certain educational and advertising 
materials indicating that such materials are produced and 
disseminated at taxpayer expense, having considered the same, 
report favorably thereon with an amendment and recommend that 
the bill as amended do pass.

                                CONTENTS

                                                                   Page
Committee Statement and Views....................................     3
Section-by-Section...............................................     4
Explanation of Amendments........................................     5
Committee Consideration..........................................     5
Application of Law to the Legislative Branch.....................     5
Statement of Oversight Findings and Recommendations of the 
  Committee......................................................     5
Statement of General Performance Goals and Objectives............     5
Duplication of Federal Programs..................................     5
Disclosure of Directed Rule Makings..............................     6
Federal Advisory Committee Act...................................     6
Unfunded Mandate Statement.......................................     6
Earmark Identification...........................................     6
Committee Estimate...............................................     6
Budget Authority and Congressional Budget Office Cost Estimate...     6
Additional Views.................................................     8

    The amendment is as follows:
  Strike all after the enacting clause and insert the 
following:

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

  This Act may be cited as the ``Taxpayer Transparency Act of 2014''.

SEC. 2. REQUIREMENTS FOR PRINTED MATERIALS AND ADVERTISEMENTS BY 
                    FEDERAL AGENCIES.

  (a) Requirement to Identify Funding Source for Communication Funded 
by Federal Agency.--Each communication funded by a Federal agency that 
is an advertisement, or that provides information about any Federal 
Government program, benefit, or service, shall clearly state--
          (1) in the case of a printed communication, including mass 
        mailings, signs, and billboards, that the communication is 
        printed or published at taxpayer expense; and
          (2) in the case of a communication transmitted through radio, 
        television, the Internet, or any means other than the means 
        referred to in paragraph (1), that the communication is 
        produced or disseminated at taxpayer expense.
  (b) Additional Requirements.--
          (1) Printed communication.--Any printed communication 
        described in subsection (a)(1) shall--
                  (A) be of sufficient type size to be clearly readable 
                by the recipient of the communication;
                  (B) to the extent feasible, be contained in a printed 
                box set apart from the other contents of the 
                communication; and
                  (C) to the extent feasible, be printed with a 
                reasonable degree of color contrast between the 
                background and the printed statement.
          (2) Radio, television, and internet communication.--
                  (A) Audio communication.--Any audio communication 
                described in subsection (a)(2) shall include an audio 
                statement that communicates the information required 
                under that subsection in a clearly spoken manner.
                  (B) Video communication.--Any video communication 
                described in subsection (a)(2) shall include a 
                statement with the information referred to under that 
                subsection--
                          (i) that is conveyed in a clearly spoken 
                        manner;
                          (ii) that is conveyed by a voice-over or 
                        screen view of the person making the statement; 
                        and
                          (iii) to the extent feasible, that also 
                        appears in writing at the end of the 
                        communication in a clearly readable manner with 
                        a reasonable degree of color contrast between 
                        the background and the printed statement, for a 
                        period of at least 4 seconds.
                  (C) E-mail communication.--Any e-mail communication 
                described in subsection (a)(2) shall include the 
                information required under that subsection, displayed 
                in a manner that--
                          (i) is of sufficient type size to be clearly 
                        readable by the recipient of the communication;
                          (ii) is set apart from the other contents of 
                        the communication; and
                          (iii) includes a reasonable degree of color 
                        contrast between the background and the printed 
                        statement.
  (c) Identification of Other Funding Source for Certain 
Communications.--In the case of a communication funded entirely by user 
fees, by any other source that does not include Federal funds, or by a 
combination of such fees or other source, a Federal agency may apply 
the requirements of subsections (a) and (b) by substituting ``by the 
United States Government'' for ``at taxpayer expense''.
  (d) Definitions.--In this Act:
          (1) Federal agency.--The term ``Federal agency'' has the 
        meaning given the term ``Executive agency'' in section 133 of 
        title 41, United States Code.
          (2) Mass mailing.--The term ``mass mailing'' means any 
        mailing or distribution of 499 or more newsletters, pamphlets, 
        or other printed matter with substantially identical content, 
        whether such matter is deposited singly or in bulk, or at the 
        same time or different times, except that such term does not 
        include any mailing--
                  (A) in direct response to a communication from a 
                person to whom the matter is mailed; or
                  (B) of a news release to the communications media.
  (e) Source of Funds.--The funds used by a Federal agency to carry out 
this Act shall be derived from amounts made available to the agency for 
advertising, or for providing information about any Federal Government 
program, benefit, or service.
  (f) Effective Date.--This section shall apply only to communications 
printed or otherwise produced after the date of the enactment of this 
Act.

SEC. 3. GUIDANCE FOR IMPLEMENTATION.

  Not later than 6 months after the date of the enactment of this Act, 
the Director of the Office of Management and Budget shall develop and 
issue guidance on implementing the requirements of this Act.

SEC. 4. JUDICIAL REVIEW AND ENFORCEABILITY.

  (a) Judicial Review.--There shall be no judicial review of compliance 
or noncompliance with any provision of this Act.
  (b) Enforceability.--No provision of this Act shall be construed to 
create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable by 
any administrative or judicial action.

                     Committee Statement and Views


                          PURPOSE AND SUMMARY

    The Taxpayer Transparency Act of 2014 requires the federal 
government to disclose that advertisements or materials 
providing information on a program, benefit or service are paid 
for by the taxpayer. Under the bill, agencies would include a 
disclaimer of reasonable size and clarity on communication 
pieces in print, online, on radio, or on television. Any cost 
associated with compliance would come from existing funds. H.R. 
3308 adds needed transparency to the business of government by 
requiring disclosure when taxpayer dollars are spent on 
advertising and educational materials.

                  BACKGROUND AND NEED FOR LEGISLATION

    The federal government's expenditures on advertising are 
difficult to ascertain, for two reasons: (1) there is no 
government-wide definition of what constitutes advertising; and 
(2) there is no central authority to which agencies are 
required to report advertising-related expenditures.\1\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \1\Congressional Research Service, ``Advertising by the Federal 
Government: An Overview,'' R41681, April 6, 2012, p. 2.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Advertisements provide information, but in many instances 
are designed to induce people to buy or use a product or 
service. In 2013, the administration launched a $684 million 
advertising campaign to gain support for the Affordable Care 
Act prior to open enrollment for the health care exchanges.\2\ 
In 2003, the Department of Education initiated work on a No 
Child Left Behind outreach campaign because management believed 
details regarding the NCLB programs were not being conveyed to 
those who could most benefit from them.\3\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \2\Obamacare' National Marketing Campaign To Cost Nearly $700 
Million, Associated Press, Jul. 24, 2013, at http://
washington.cbslocal.com/2013/07/24/obamacare-national-marketing-
campaign-to-cost-nearly-700-million/.
    \3\Government Accountability Office, ``Department of Education--
Contract to Obtain Services of Armstrong Williams,'' B-305368, 
September 30, 2005, p. 1.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    While these ad buys are of concern, advertising is hardly a 
new practice by the federal government. While one can debate 
whether individual federal advertising campaigns are overly 
promotional, the public should know they themselves are 
sponsoring a government marketing piece. The statement ``This 
mailing was prepared, published, and mailed at taxpayer 
expense'' must appear on mass mailings by Members of 
Congress.\4\ Requiring a similar disclosure to the 
communications materials produced by the Executive Branch will 
help ensure the public is better informed about the services 
provided by the federal government and how the federal 
government is promoting the use of those services.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \4\P.L. 104-197.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

                          LEGISLATIVE HISTORY

    H.R. 3308 was introduced by Representative Billy Long on 
October 22, 2013, and referred to the Committee on Oversight 
and Government Reform. Similar legislation, S. 1921, was 
introduced on January 14, 2014, by Senator Roy Blunt, and 
referred to the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and 
Governmental Affairs.

                           Section-by-Section


Section 1. Short title

    The short title of the bill is the ``Taxpayer Transparency 
Act of 2014''.

Section 2. Requirements for printed materials and advertisements by 
        federal agencies

    Communications funded by a federal agency to advertise or 
provide information on a federal government program, benefit, 
or service must clearly indicate the piece was developed and 
distributed at taxpayer expense. For communications funded 
entirely by user fees--or by any other source that does not 
include federal funds--agencies may indicate the communication 
is funded by the United States Government.

Section 3. Guidance for implementation

    Requires the Director of the Office of Management and 
Budget to develop and issue guidance within six months of 
enactment on implementing the bill.

Section 4. Judicial review and enforceability

    Clarifies that the bill does not provide for judicial 
review of compliance or noncompliance with any provision in the 
bill. Provides that no provision of the bill shall be construed 
to create a right or benefit.

                          DIRECTED RULEMAKINGS

    H.R. 3308 requires the Director of the Office of Management 
and Budget to develop and issue guidance within six months of 
enactment on implementing the bill.

                          DUPLICATIVE PROGRAMS

    No provision of H.R. 3308 establishes or reauthorizes a 
program of the Federal Government known to be duplicative of 
another Federal program, a program that was included in any 
report from the Government Accountability Office to Congress 
pursuant to section 21 of Public Law 111-139, or a program 
related to a program identified in the most recent Catalog of 
Federal Domestic Assistance.

                       Explanation of Amendments

    Mr. Farenthold offered an amendment in nature of a 
substitute to H.R. 3308. The amendment: (1) makes clear the 
bill applies to communications printed or otherwise produced 
after the date of enactment; (2) allows agencies to substitute 
the term `funded by the United States Government' for products 
funded entirely by user fees or other sources that do not 
include federal funds; (3) clarifies application of the bill to 
communications that provide information on a federal program, 
benefit, or service; (4) eliminates the exceptions to the 
policy provided in the introduced bill; (5) clarifies that the 
bill does not provide for judicial review of compliance or 
noncompliance with any provision in the bill; and (6) requires 
the Director of the Office of Management and Budget to provide 
implementing guidance within six months of enactment.
    The amendment was agreed to by voice vote.

                        Committee Consideration

    On February 11, 2014, the Committee met in open session and 
ordered reported favorably the bill, H.R. 3308, as amended, by 
voice vote, a quorum being present.

              Application of Law to the Legislative Branch

    Section 102(b)(3) of Public Law 104-1 requires a 
description of the application of this bill to the legislative 
branch where the bill relates to the terms and conditions of 
employment or access to public services and accommodations. 
This bill requires the federal government to disclose that 
advertisements or materials providing information on a program, 
benefit or service are paid for by the taxpayer. As such this 
bill does not relate to employment or access to public services 
and accommodations.
    Legislative branch employees and their families, to the 
extent that they are otherwise eligible for the benefits 
provided by this legislation, have equal access to its 
benefits.

  Statement of Oversight Findings and Recommendations of the Committee

    In compliance with clause 3(c)(1) of rule XIII and clause 
(2)(b)(1) of rule X of the Rules of the House of 
Representatives, the Committee's oversight findings and 
recommendations are reflected in the descriptive portions of 
this report.

         Statement of General Performance Goals and Objectives

    In accordance with clause 3(c)(4) of rule XIII of the Rules 
of the House of Representatives, the Committee's performance 
goals and objectives are reflected in the descriptive portions 
of this report.

                    Duplication of Federal Programs

    No provision of H.R. 3308 establishes or reauthorizes a 
program of the Federal Government known to be duplicative of 
another Federal program, a program that was included in any 
report from the Government Accountability Office to Congress 
pursuant to section 21 of Public Law 111-139, or a program 
related to a program identified in the most recent Catalog of 
Federal Domestic Assistance.

                  Disclosure of Directed Rule Makings

    H.R. 3308 requires the Director of the Office of Management 
and Budget to develop and issue guidance within six months of 
enactment on implementing the bill.

                     Federal Advisory Committee Act

    The Committee finds that the legislation does not establish 
or authorize the establishment of an advisory committee within 
the definition of 5 U.S.C. App., Section 5(b).

                       Unfunded Mandate Statement

    Section 423 of the Congressional Budget and Impoundment 
Control Act (as amended by Section 101(a)(2) of the Unfunded 
Mandate Reform Act, P.L. 104-4) requires a statement as to 
whether the provisions of the reported include unfunded 
mandates. In compliance with this requirement the Committee has 
received a letter from the Congressional Budget Office included 
herein.

                         Earmark Identification

    H.R. 3308 does not include any congressional earmarks, 
limited tax benefits, or limited tariff benefits as defined in 
clause 9 of rule XXI.

                           Committee Estimate

    Clause 3(d)(2) of rule XIII of the Rules of the House of 
Representatives requires an estimate and a comparison by the 
Committee of the costs that would be incurred in carrying out 
H.R. 3308. However, clause 3(d)(3)(B) of that rule provides 
that this requirement does not apply when the Committee has 
included in its report a timely submitted cost estimate of the 
bill prepared by the Director of the Congressional Budget 
Office under section 402 of the Congressional Budget Act.

     Budget Authority and Congressional Budget Office Cost Estimate

    With respect to the requirements of clause 3(c)(2) of rule 
XIII of the Rules of the House of Representatives and section 
308(a) of the Congressional Budget Act of 1974 and with respect 
to requirements of clause (3)(c)(3) of rule XIII of the Rules 
of the House of Representatives and section 402 of the 
Congressional Budget Act of 1974, the Committee has received 
the following cost estimate for H.R. 3308 from the Director of 
Congressional Budget Office:

                                     U.S. Congress,
                               Congressional Budget Office,
                                 Washington, DC, February 14, 2014.
Hon. Darrell Issa,
Chairman, Committee on Oversight and Government Reform,
House of Representatives, Washington, DC.
    Dear Mr. Chairman: The Congressional Budget Office has 
prepared the enclosed cost estimate for H.R. 3308, the Taxpayer 
Transparency Act of 2014.
    If you wish further details on this estimate, we will be 
pleased to provide them. The CBO staff contact is Matthew 
Pickford.
            Sincerely,
                                              Douglas W. Elmendorf.
    Enclosure.

H.R. 3308--Taxpayer Transparency Act of 2014

    H.R. 3308 would require that communications from federal 
agencies to the public clearly state that the communication is 
composed and disseminated at taxpayer expense. Agency 
communications that are funded with user fees or nonfederal 
funds would need to clearly state that the communication is 
funded by the United States government. The bill would cover 
any type of advertisement or communication transmitted by any 
means that provides information about any government program, 
benefit, or service.
    Because the legislation would apply only to communications 
produced after enactment, CBO estimates that this requirement 
on future agency communications with the public would have no 
significant impact on the budget. The legislation could affect 
direct spending by agencies not funded through annual 
appropriations; therefore, pay-as-you-go procedures apply. CBO 
estimates, however, that any net increase in spending by those 
agencies would not be significant. Enacting the bill would not 
affect revenues.
    H.R. 3308 contains no intergovernmental or private-sector 
mandates as defined in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act and 
would impose no costs on state, local, or tribal governments.
    The CBO staff contact for this estimate is Matthew 
Pickford. The estimate was approved by Theresa Gullo, Deputy 
Assistant Director for Budget Analysis.

                            ADDITIONAL VIEWS

    H.R. 3308 would require agencies to print at the bottom of 
advertisements and educational communications that they are 
``printed or published at taxpayer expense.'' The bill would 
change existing requirements for many government agencies, 
including the Department of Defense. The Army, for example, 
currently prints on its recruitment materials: ``Paid for by 
the United States Army.'' The Committee has identified no 
legitimate reason to change these requirements for the 
military, and the Committee has held no hearings on the topic 
of this legislation.
    Representative Duckworth also raised a concern during the 
Committee's consideration of this bill that certain agency 
materials, such as mental health outreach materials issued by 
the Department of Veterans Affairs, should include the name of 
the agency rather than ``printed or published at taxpayer 
expense.'' This practice would be consistent with that of 
military agencies and would encourage veterans and 
servicemembers to seek out and obtain all services and benefits 
to which they are entitled.
    Chairman Issa and Chairman Farenthold, the sponsor of the 
substitute amendment, committed to work with Representative 
Duckworth to address these concerns. Chairman Issa said:

    I would join with my colleague from Texas in saying we 
would enjoy working with you to make sure that we make it very 
clear so as not to discriminate or cause veterans or military 
not to be involved. So I think we can find the best language 
together.

    These concerns should be fully addressed before any further 
consideration of this legislation.

                                   Elijah E. Cummings.
                                   Tammy Duckworth.