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SUBCOMMITTEE ON REPORTS, ACCOUNTING AND MANAGEMENT
LEE METCALF, Montana, Chairman
JOHN L. MCCLELLAN, Arkansas
BILL BROCK, Tennessee
LOWELL P. WEICKER, JR., Connecticut
VIC REINEMER, Staff Director
E. WINSLOW TURNER, Chief Counsel
GERALD STURGES, Professional Staff Member
Hon. Lee Metcalf, a U.S. Senator from the State of Montana__.
S. 2206-To provide for the appointment of the Comptroller General
of the United States by the Speaker of the House of Representa-
tives and the President pro tempore of the Senate____
S. 2268-To revise and restate certain functions and duties of the
Comptroller General of the United States, and for other purposes--
S. 2352-To amend the Accounting and Auditing Act of 1950 to pro-
vide for the audit, by the Comptroller General, of the Internal
Revenue Service and of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Fire-
S. 2418-To amend the Accounting and Auditing Act of 1950 to
provide for the audit of certain Federal agencies by the Comptroller
Elmer B. Staats, Comptroller General, accompanied by Robert F. Keller,
Deputy Comptroller General; Paul G. Dembling, General Counsel; and
Thomas Williamson, senior attorney, General Accounting Office---
Paper showing the relationship between the GAO and the Attorney
Examples of problems the GAO has encountered in obtaining access
Breakdown of negotiated versus open bid contracts__.
Examples of functions and activities of the Federal Reserve system
subject to evaluation of effectiveness of results achieved as part
Memorandum to Senator Metcalf from Don Tacheron and Win Turner.
Subject: Background for October 2 hearing on bills providing for con-
gressional appointment of, and expanded powers for, the Comptroller
Letter to Senator Metcalf from the Comptroller General re major change
Report from the Library of Congress, Congressional Research Service,
titled: "The Comptroller General: History and Independence"-
Analysis of S. 2268, the "General Accounting Office Act of 1975," pre-
pared by the Library of Congress, Congressional Research Service__
Text of Public Law 67-13-S. 1084, June 10, 1921---
Copy of Civil Action No. 75-0551; Elmer B. Staats, Comptroller General
of the United States v. Gerald R. Ford, individually and in the official
capacity as President of the United States, et al., with argument and
Copy of Civil Action No. 75-0551: Elmer B. Staats, Comptroller General of
Letter to Chairman Ribicoff from Arthur F. Burns, Chairman of the
Letter to Senator Metcalf from Elmer B. Staats, Comptroller General of the United States, expressing his approval of the language in H.R. 8948, November 18, 1975__.
Replies to issues raised by the National Security Industrial Association
The General Accounting Office: One Hope for Congress to Regain
Alice in Wunderlich: The Attorney General's Dream of Limiting the
The One-Eyed Watchdog of Congress, by Richard F. Kaufman, from the Washington Monthly, February 1971--
The Half-Hearted GAO: Congress Gets What It Wants, by Erwin
The GAO: A General Accounting. by Peter Gruenstein, from the Nation, June 4, 1973-
The Future of the IRS, Editorial from the Washington Post, April 28, 1975
Overseeing the IRS, by Louise Brown, from the Washington Post,
Take Heart-Tax Men Now Being Investigated, by Robert P. Hey,
IRS Needs Monitoring Agency, by Louise Brown, from People and
Taxes: Tales of the IRS, from Newsweek, March 12, 1973_.
A Watchdog for the IRS, Editorial from Chicago Tribune, April 15, 1975
IRS, Unlike Taxpayers, Avoids an Audit, by Lee Flor, from the
News on Tax Reform, by E. Edward Stephens, from The Washington
THURSDAY, OCTOBER 2, 1975
SUBCOMMITTEE ON REPORTS,
ACCOUNTING AND MANAGEMENT,
COMMITTEE ON GOVERNMENT OPERATIONS,
The subcommittee met at 10:05 a.m., pursuant to call, in room 3302, Dirksen Senate Office Building, Hon. Lee Metcalf (chairman of the subcommittee), presiding.
Present: Senators Metcalf and Weicker.
Also present: Vic Reinemer, staff director; E. Winslow Turner, chief counsel; Jeanne A. McNaughton, chief clerk; Lyle Ryter, minority counsel; John B. Chesson III, counsel.
OPENING STATEMENT OF SENATOR METCALF
Senator METCALF. The subcommittee will be in order.
Today we begin hearings on four bills relating to the Comptroller General and the General Accounting Office.
The first bill, S. 2206, shifts the power to appoint the Comptroller General, and his deputy, from the President to the Speaker of the House and t'e President pro tempore of the Senate. The Comptroller General's term would be reduced from 15 to 7 years, and he could be removed for any cause by a simple resolution of the Congress. The objective of this bill is to provide the Congress with full control over the General Accounting Office and the policies of the Comptroller General.
The second bill, S. 2268, would give the Comptroller General the authority to go into court and seek declaratory relief when he believes a Federal official is about to make an illegal expenditure. It would give him subpena power over records of contractors and other persons to which he has a right of access by law or agreement. It would give him the authority to seek a court order against a Federal department or agency which refused to grant him access to records which they are required to do under existing law. And it would also direct the Comptroller General to make a selective profit study with respect to Government contractors, and report the results of such study promptly to the Congress. The objective of S. 2268 is to strengthen the discovery and enforcement powers of the Comptroller General.
The third bill, S. 2352, requires the GAO to make an audit of the Internal Revenue Service and the Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms Bureau of the Treasury Department. and includes authority to obtain certain confidential access to tax returns and financial records.
A fourth bill, S. 2418, would also authorize an annual audit of the IRS, as well as a similar audit of the Federal Reserve Board and its member banks, the Comptroller of the Currency and the Office of Alien Property. Special access to books, financial records, and examination reports is included as part of this bill.
These four bills will become part of the record immediately following this opening statement. All of these bills raise basic questions as to the appropriate role and scope of authority of the General Accounting Office and of the power of Congress to seek the enforcement of executive functions through an officer of its own choosing and under its own control.
Since its establishment in 1921, the agency has had a split personality: variously referred to as an "arm of the Congress" in conducting an investigative and oversight function, and as an "independent agency" in exercising its "executive-type" authority to approve or disapprove Federal payments and settle accounts, among other things.
The Comptroller General now seeks broader powers of discovery through subpena, and a new power-that of enforcement of his decisions on Federal expenditures through court action. I have no quarrel with granting him these powers if he were under the control of Congress, but as an "independent agency"-independent of the executive and independent of the Congress a fourth branch of the Government-I have serious concern.
There is the further question as to whether the Comptroller General-if he is equipped with the new powers he is seeking-needs to have, or should be permitted to retain, the "executive-type" functions of determining accounts provided to him under the Budgeting and Accounting Act, since with the new and extraordinary powers of discovery and enforcement he would have sufficient authority to challenge the expenditure decisions made by the executive.
Then there is the ultimate issue of whether such power to sue delegated to an officer of the Congress-which the Comptroller General would certainly be if he were appointed by the Congress-would be consistent with the principle of separation of powers. Certainly we should inquire into the extent to which the "appropriations" power, together with the "necessary and proper" clause in the Constitution, would provide Congress with the authority to call into account the unlawful expenditure of Federal funds, and the right to exercise this authority through a special officer and the courts.
Finally, we will inquire into the adequacy of the GAO's present investigatory and oversight performance, and what additional areas of oversight should be pursued. The bills authorizing audits of the IRS, the Federal Reserve Board, the Comptroller of the Currency, and other agencies go to this issue. There may be other executive agencies ripe for review. There may be a real need for stronger subpena authority in the GAO.
It is my intention to hold additional hearings where critics and supporters of the GAO will have the opportunity to express their views.
And I want to hear from constitutional experts as to how Congress may properly clothe the GAO with powers to represent the Congress in its application of "checks and balances" against Presidential excess and unwarranted power.