Washington, D.C. – House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) and Congressman Doug Collins (R-Ga.) issued the following statements on House passage of the Open Book on Equal Access to Justice Act (H.R. 1033) by voice vote.
Chairman Goodlatte: “When taxpayer dollars are used to settle suits in which the United States government is a party, Americans deserve an open and transparent system in order to ensure accountability. When citizens bring valid claims against federal agencies for misconduct, it is crucial we have proper reporting and openness in how those cases are handled and settled.
“For too long the rules put into place by the Equal Access to Justice Act have been ignored, and this bipartisan bill brings proper oversight to how federal agencies handle disputes made with the citizens they are charged to serve.”
Congressman Collins: “Americans have a right to be protected from abusive litigation tactics at the hands of their government, tactics that infringe on their basic liberties. The Equal Access to Justice Act remains a key tool in giving individual citizens recourse to address federal agency misconduct. The Open Book on Equal Access to Justice Act gives taxpayers access to information about federal agency payments and legal positions in EAJA cases, strengthening the original law by ensuring that federal agencies apply it transparently and effectively.
“The Open Book Act represents a step toward greater government transparency and a victory for the American people.”
Background: Introduced by Congressman Collins, the Open Book on Equal Access to Justice Act would bring transparency to the Equal Access to Justice Act (EAJA) process by requiring the Administrative Conference of the United States to maintain an online database that makes EAJA data from every federal agency available to the public and to Congress, which has oversight over government spending.
Since 1995, federal agencies have not been required to keep records of EAJA reimbursements or the legal justifications behind them, meaning that the public has no access to how much agencies are paying out and whether the payments are justified.