A House committee on Thursday passed a bill that would make it easier for citizens to download and search information on the finances of companies given government money. The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee agreed to add the measure to a bill that is moving faster, S. 303, the 2009 Federal Financial Management Improvement Act.
The financial transparency bill, known as the Government Information Transparency Act, H.R. 2392, now goes to the House for full consideration.
The measure follows earlier efforts by the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. to standardize the collecting, analyzing and sharing of financial information. It would now require all federal agencies to use the same standard format, called eXtensible Business Reporting Language (XBRL).
So, in effect, all banks receiving bailout funds would have to file their business activities in XBRL. Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., the ranking member of the committee, who voted against the bailout, introduced the bipartisan bill in May.
Congress is increasing scrutiny of the Troubled Asset Relief Program, following the president's recent announcement that he wants to shift bailout funds to job creation initiatives.
Last week, the House passed a bipartisan bill, H.R. 1242, that would create a Treasury Department database to deliver lawmakers and federal auditors near real-time updates on the use of bailout funds.
Issa and co-sponsor Edolphus Towns, D-N.Y., chairman of the committee, also amended S. 303 to make grants awarded by each federal agency fully searchable in one place. Watchdog groups and individuals would be able to view grant applications and later see if grantees followed through on promises in their applications to use taxpayer money efficiently, Issa said on Thursday.