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Kind: Agency excesses, Social Security number handling prompted House legislation


WASHINGTON, D.C. (WSAU) - Two pieces of legislation have been introduced in Washington D.C. that are designed to crack down on agency spending and disclosure of Social Security numbers.

One of the bills is called the Trace Act. Congressman Ron Kind says this would force government agencies to show up front what they plan on paying for at educational and training conferences. “It would merely require any federal agency that’s having an education conference or forum to have to disclose to Congress the parameters of that conference, what they’re going to do, what material is going to be covered, what the expense is, who’s going to be invited, and hopefully through that more effective oversight, place a little more humility in these federal agencies so they’re not out there burning taxpayer dollars on extraneous and unnecessary things.”

Kind says the recent extravagant conference for the Internal Revenue Service prompted him and other members of Congress to propose this. “The IRS over the last couple of years spent about two hundred million dollars on conferences with magic shows, and entertainment coming in at a time when we’re asking a lot of Americans to take a haircut because of the fiscal challenges that we face. That’s wrong, and the Trace Act is meant to correct it.”

The other proposed legislation is also inspired by an IRS mistake. Kind says it’s called the Safeguarding Social Security Act. “It was found that the IRS slipped up and posted over 100,000 Social Security numbers when they weren’t supposed to, so the bipartisan legislation that I’m supporting, Safeguarding Social Security Numbers Act, would require the commissioner of the Social Security Administration to establish standards and protocols in the handling of Social Security numbers.”

The issue that has most Americans paying attention to Washington lately is the National Security Administration’s ability to access our private information in the name of national security. Kind says having a better checks and balances system between the judicial and executive branches is probably the right answer. “We have to have a meaningful judicial oversight of the executive branch, and those within the executive branch themselves have to be sensitive to the protection of civil liberties and individual privacy rights in our country, but we also need this capability of being able to connect the dots, being able to track down this information in order to prevent another 9-11 terrorist attack from occurring.”