Financial Disclosure

Legislative Branch Systems Improved but Can Be Further Strengthened Gao ID: GGD-89-103 September 8, 1989

Pursuant to a legislative requirement, GAO evaluated the effectiveness of the legislative financial disclosure process, focusing on whether: (1) individuals accurately and timely filed their required reports; (2) the House and Senate committees took steps to obtain overdue reports; (3) the committees reviewed the reports to ensure that individuals properly filled them out and, if in error, whether the corrections were timely; and (4) the committees made the reports available to the public.

GAO found that: (1) the House and Senate have made substantial progress in improving their financial disclosure systems, detecting and reducing reporting errors, improving followup on overdue reports, issuing clarified forms and instructions, and developing report review checklists, which resulted in overall improved filing compliance; (2) although political candidate filing improved since 1981, about one-half of the candidates for the House and Senate filed late or did not file in 1986; (3) although both the House and Senate procedures for reviewing reports were effective in detecting apparent errors, the House did not review requested corrections and, while the Senate reviewed requested corrections, it did not always ensure timely corrections; (4) both the House and Senate made disclosure reports available to the public, but did not always clarify whether the reports were subject to change as a result of committee reviews; and (5) although the House reviewed some reports prior to release, the Senate did not, and the Senate notified the public that reports could be amended, but the House did not.


Our recommendations from this work are listed below with a Contact for more information. Status will change from "In process" to "Open," "Closed - implemented," or "Closed - not implemented" based on our follow up work.

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