Republicans to curb Government Accountability Office probes of private sector if they win House



A key House Republican indicated this week that the GOP will exert tighter oversight of congressional investigators at the Government Accountability Office (GAO) if it wins control of the House next month.

GAO is an independent agency under Congress that’s known as Congress’ watchdog. It bills itself as a provider of information on “government operations” that Congress can use to “improve the performance of government” and “save taxpayers billions of dollars.”

But Rep. James Comer, R-Ky., the likely chair of the House Oversight and Reform Committee if Republicans win, says GAO has strayed from that mission. He wants to push GAO to refocus its work on government oversight if the GOP takes over.

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Oversight and Reform Committee ranking member Rep. James Comer, R-Ky., questions Postmaster General Louis DeJoy Aug. 24.
(Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images/Pool)

“Republicans believe GAO … must be focused on the efficiency, effectiveness and accountability of the federal government and all its agencies,” Comer told Fox News Digital in response to questions about a new GAO report that went beyond government oversight.

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Late last month, GAO released a report, “Hispanic Workers Are Underrepresented in the Media, and More Data Are Needed for Federal Enforcement Efforts.” While GAO noted that federal agencies have a role to play in enforcing non-discrimination laws in the media, the bulk of the report focused not on how to make those agencies run better but on the private media companies themselves.

Chairwoman Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., asks a question during a House Committee on Oversight and Reform hearing to examine the practices and profits of gun manufacturers July 27, 2022, on Capitol Hill.

Chairwoman Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., asks a question during a House Committee on Oversight and Reform hearing to examine the practices and profits of gun manufacturers July 27, 2022, on Capitol Hill.
(AP Photo/Mariam Zuhaib)

“From 2010 through 2019, Hispanic workers were underrepresented in the media industry compared to their representation in the rest of the workforce,” GAO estimated through the use of federal data. The report said Hispanic representation in the media grew by one percentage point over the last decade and still lags well behind the percentage of Hispanics found in non-media companies.

The report’s authors also examined Hispanic representation in the media by gender and by specific occupation, spoke to researchers about obstacles that stand in the way of more Hispanics entering the media and studied public reports from media companies about their commitment to workplace diversity.

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GAO declined to answer questions from Fox News Digital about whether a report on the racial or ethnic makeup of media companies goes beyond its mission of improving the government’s performance.

The broadening scope of GAO’s work appears to mirror the House Democratic approach to running the House Oversight and Reform Committee, which often requests GAO investigations. The Democratic chair of that committee, Rep. Carolyn Maloney of New York, along with a handful of other Democrats, asked GAO to look into Hispanic employment in the media.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., has said Republicans will launch a significant oversight effort over the Biden administration if Republicans take back the House.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., has said Republicans will launch a significant oversight effort over the Biden administration if Republicans take back the House.
(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

In 2019, Democrats dropped the concept of “Government Reform” from the name of the committee and have since investigated issues outside the realm of government accountability, including sexual harassment charges against staff members of the Washington Football Team and salaries for professional women soccer players.

Comer says his aim is to put both the committee and GAO back on the path of government oversight. That includes putting the idea of “government reform” back into the committee he leads.

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Committee Democrats have completely abdicated their responsibility to conduct oversight of the federal government and root out waste, fraud, abuse and mismanagement,” he said. “The committee’s name change is a sign of that.

“If Americans entrust Republicans with the majority in 2023, we will change the name of the committee to reflect its traditional focus and ensure Americans’ voices are heard in Washington.”