Oversight, Regulation

Sens. Warren, Coburn introduce bill to boost transparency in federal settlements

Elizabeth Warren

Elizabeth Warren

Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) introduced legislation on Tuesday that would require federal agencies to provide full disclosure related to settlements involving enforcement actions.

“When government agencies reach settlements with companies that break the law, they should disclose the terms of those deals to the public,” Warren said. “Anytime an agency decides that an enforcement action is needed, but it is not willing to go to court, that agency should be willing to disclose the key terms and conditions of the agreement. Increased transparency will shut down backroom deal-making and ensure that Congress, citizens and watchdog groups can hold regulatory agencies accountable for strong and effective enforcement that benefits the public interest.”

“Since agencies are not currently required to disclose the financial structure of government settlements, too often the true value of those settlements is not known because often companies are allowed to deduct part of the payment,” Coburn said. “Our bill gives taxpayers the transparency tools they need to access real information and numbers regarding enforcement settlements.”

Under Warren and Coburn’s legislation, all written public statements that reference dollar amounts related to settlements will be required to include details of how the settlements are categorized for tax purposes. Companies will also have to disclose whether they have deducted any or all of settlements from taxes.

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