Sens. Joni Ernst and Rand Paul
PC: Gage Skidmore

Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA) introduced the Cost Openness and Spending Transparency (COST) Act in March, a bill that should make all fiscal conservatives very happy.

Joined by her colleagues Senators Rand Paul (R-KY) and James Lankford (R-OK), the legislation is a response to findings from a watchdog investigation. This investigation, run by the United States Government Accountability Office (GAO) discovered that agencies are not abiding by the current law that requires full disclosure of the costs for taxpayer-funded projects.

The COST Act would require all projects using federal funds to make a price tag easily available for taxpayers. If an agency or group ignores the law, this act would give the administration authority to withhold certain funding in order to guaruntee compliance.

“Taxpayers in Iowa, and across the nation, have a right to know exactly how their hard-earned dollars are being spent. While current law requires projects funded by some federal agencies to disclose the costs, my office has found that these agencies are largely ignoring the law and failing to comply,” commented Sen. Ernst.

“That’s unacceptable, and it’s exactly why I’ve teamed up with lawmakers to ensure that every federal agency discloses the exact costs of any project. The COST Act guarantees hardworking Iowans have easy access to see how their tax dollars are being spent, and gives them the ability to decide for themselves whether or not the price is right.”

Sen. Paul added, “If we want to stop wasteful government spending, we must ensure the American people can more easily find out exactly how it uses their money. Through the COST Act, and other transparency efforts such as my Waste Report, we can empower Americans to better hold government accountable for its choices.”

Sens. Ernst, Lankford, and Paul cited several examples of government waste found in the GAO’s report. Below are a few of the most notable:

  • “According to research funded from a $405,000 NIH grant and additional support from the National Science Foundation (NSF), researchers found that when encouraged to put on a cape and pretend to be Batman, kids were less distracted from doing a boring assignment.”
  • “Ten different cat studies supported by NIH grants totaling $1.3 million found that cats pampered with treats and classical music every day are less likely to poop outside of the litter box or cough up hairballs.”
  • “Supported by a $256,000 NIH grant, researchers found that sunflower seeds are the most pleasing food to the palates of pigeons, followed by popcorn and peanuts, according to a taste test of seven different foods involving eight pigeons.”

Taxpayers deserve to know if their tax dollars are being wasted, and the COST Act is certainly a step forward for government spending transparency.

PC: Gage Skidmore

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