Carper, Braun, Merkley Reintroduce Bipartisan Bill to Increase Government Transparency

WASHINGTON D.C.—U.S. Senator Tom Carper (D-Del.), senior member of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, and Senators Mike Braun (R-Ind.) and Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) today introduced The Periodically Listing Updates to Management Act of 2022 (PLUM Act 2022). Currently, the federal government publishes a comprehensive list of positions appointed by the President once every four years called the “Plum Book.” The PLUM Act of 2022 would modernize the Plum Book by requiring the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to establish and maintain a current, publicly available directory of senior government leaders online. This good governance bill will increase transparency and help make the federal government more accessible and accountable to the American people.

Senator Carper introduced The PLUM Act last March, and has reintroduced it now as a bipartisan piece of legislation. In addition to this updated legislation now being bipartisan, it also includes a new provision that would require OPM to coordinate with the White House to make a summary of demographic information on political appointees publicly available. 

“Americans deserve to know who is at the table in our government making decisions that impact their daily lives. That’s why I’m proud to reintroduce the bipartisan PLUM Act of 2022, a bill that will ensure Americans know in real-time the individuals who are serving them at the highest level of our government,” said Carper.” “I want to thank Senators Braun and Merkley for joining this important effort that will increase transparency across our government going forward.”

“Hoosiers and all Americans should have access to a current directory of the government officials that serve them. I’m proud to join Senator Carper in this bipartisan legislation to increase transparency and accountability in the federal government by modernizing the Plum Book,” said Braun.

“Transparent and readily-available information on government officials should be easily accessible to the citizens and communities these individuals lead, represent, and serve,” said Merkley. “The PLUM Act of 2022 will give the American people a clearer picture of how their government is organized and who the political appointees working for them are, and that’s good for accountability. I look forward to continuing this bipartisan push with Senator Carper and Senator Braun.”

Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform is leading the effort in the House. The House Committee passed their version of the PLUM Act last June by voice vote. 

Specifically, the PLUM Act of 2022 would:

Modernize the Current Practice of Publishing the “Plum Book” Every Four Years

  • Require OPM, in consultation with the General Services Administration (GSA), to develop and maintain a publicly accessible website with data on senior leaders in government that meets modern data standards.

Enhance Transparency into Who is Setting Policy and Making Key Decisions

  • Share data on senior leaders in government that serve in policy and supporting positions, including Senate-confirmed presidentially appointed positions, presidentially appointed positions, members of the Senior Executive Service and certain other senior political appointees.
  • Require that agencies report data similar to that currently published in the Plum Book, such as the name of the individual, name of the position, agency and component, geographic location, and type of position.

Improve the Frequency, Accuracy and Accessibility of Data on Government Leaders

  • Require agencies to provide data on a more frequent basis to OPM to be published in the directory.
  • Establish a mechanism for information verification by requiring the Director of OPM to coordinate with the White House Office of Presidential Personnel to confirm that information is complete, accurate, reliable, and up-to-date.

Optional Reporting of Demographic Information

  • Require OPM to coordinate with the White House to make a summary of demographic information on political appointees publicly available, while including guardrails by providing senior leaders the option to “not specify” with respect to any demographic information that is collected.

The full text of The PLUM Act of 2022 is available here.