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                                                       Calendar No. 646
111th Congress
                                 SENATE
                                                                 Report
 2d Session                                                     111-350

======================================================================


        GOVERNMENT ACCOUNTABILITY OFFICE IMPROVEMENT ACT OF 2010

                               __________

                              R E P O R T

                                 of the

                   COMMITTEE ON HOMELAND SECURITY AND

                          GOVERNMENTAL AFFAIRS

                          UNITED STATES SENATE

                              to accompany

                                S. 2991

    TO AMEND TITLE 31, UNITED STATES CODE, TO ENHANCE THE OVERSIGHT 
     AUTHORITIES OF THE COMPTROLLER GENERAL, AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES




               November 18, 2010.--Ordered to be printed


        COMMITTEE ON HOMELAND SECURITY AND GOVERNMENTAL AFFAIRS

               JOSEPH I. LIEBERMAN, Connecticut, Chairman
CARL LEVIN, Michigan                 SUSAN M. COLLINS, Maine
DANIEL K. AKAKA, Hawaii              TOM COBURN, Oklahoma
THOMAS R. CARPER, Delaware           SCOTT P. BROWN, Massachusetts
MARK L. PRYOR, Arkansas              JOHN McCAIN, Arizona
MARY L. LANDRIEU, Louisiana          GEORGE V. VOINOVICH, Ohio
CLAIRE McCASKILL, Missouri           JOHN ENSIGN, Nevada
JON TESTER, Montana                  LINDSEY GRAHAM, South Carolina
ROLAND W. BURRIS, Illinois
CHRISTOPHER A. COONS, Delaware

                  Michael L. Alexander, Staff Director
                     Kevin J. Landy, Chief Counsel
                      Jonathan M. Kraden, Counsel
     Brandon L. Milhorn, Minority Staff Director and Chief Counsel
                    Lisa M. Nieman, Minority Counsel
                  Trina Driessnack Tyrer, Chief Clerk


                            C O N T E N T S

                                                                   Page
  I. Purpose and Summary..............................................1
 II. Background and Need for the Legislation..........................2
III. Legislative History..............................................5
 IV. Section-by-Section Analysis......................................5
  V. Regulatory Impact and Evaluation.................................6
 VI. Congressional Budget Office Cost Estimate........................7
VII. Changes in Existing Law Made by the Bill, as Reported............7


                                                       Calendar No. 646
111th Congress
                                 SENATE
                                                                 Report
 2d Session                                                     111-350

======================================================================



 
        GOVERNMENT ACCOUNTABILITY OFFICE IMPROVEMENT ACT OF 2010

                                _______
                                

               November 18, 2010.--Ordered to be printed

                                _______
                                

Mr. Lieberman, from the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental 
                    Affairs, submitted the following

                              R E P O R T

                         [To accompany S. 2991]

    The Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental 
Affairs, to which was referred the bill (S. 2991) to amend 
title 31, United States Code, to enhance the oversight 
authorities of the Comptroller General, and for other purposes, 
having considered the same, reports favorably thereon with an 
amendment in the nature of a substitute, and recommends that 
the bill, as amended, do pass.

                         I. Purpose and Summary

    S. 2991, the Government Accountability Office Improvement 
Act of 2010, responds to several efforts in recent years to 
curtail the authority of the Government Accountability Office 
(GAO), a legislative branch agency that serves as Congress' 
investigative arm. The bill both confirms and enhances GAO's 
investigative powers by making clear that: the Comptroller 
General (the head of GAO) has standing to pursue litigation to 
compel access to federal agency information; GAO has the right 
to make and retain copies of agency records; GAO can administer 
oaths to witnesses when conducting certain types of 
investigations; and GAO has the authority to access specific 
categories of records that have been denied to GAO by the 
Department of Health and Human Services, the Food and Drug 
Administration, the Federal Trade Commission, and the 
Department of Justice. S. 2991 also confirms GAO's 
responsibility to protect sensitive information and requires 
GAO to prescribe the policies necessary to protect proprietary 
or trade secret information from public disclosure.

              II. Background and Need for the Legislation

    Congress relies on GAO in carrying out the investigative 
and oversight functions vested in the legislative branch. The 
GAO helps inform the Congress, executive agencies, and the 
public about areas and programs within the federal government 
that are performing well, and those that need to be improved or 
are vulnerable to waste, fraud, abuse, and mismanagement. GAO's 
audits provide reliable assessments as to whether the taxpayers 
are receiving full value from important government programs.
    To carry out this role, GAO has had a long-standing 
statutory right of access to information and records in the 
possession of federal agencies. Although many access disputes 
are long-standing, several recent efforts by the executive 
branch to withhold information from GAO highlight how Congress' 
ability to legislate effectively, conduct meaningful oversight, 
and audit the use of appropriated funds can be impeded when GAO 
is denied information. S. 2991 is intended to increase the 
effectiveness of GAO by ensuring that GAO is not unreasonably 
restricted in its efforts to secure necessary information in 
the course of performing its auditing and investigative 
functions for the Congress.
    S. 2991 also responds to a judicial decision that 
questioned GAO's authority to compel production of material 
from the executive branch.\1\ In 1980, Congress passed 
legislation authorizing the Comptroller General to ``bring a 
civil action in the district court of the United States for the 
District of Columbia to require the head of the agency to 
produce a record[.]''\2\ In litigation arising from GAO's 
efforts to obtain information about the operations of former 
Vice President Cheney's energy task force, the U.S. District 
Court for the District of Columbia held that the Comptroller 
General lacked standing to enforce GAO's right to 
information.\3\ S. 2991 makes clear that, contrary to the 
Court's decision, the Comptroller General has standing to 
pursue such cases. Specifically, S. 2991 makes clear that the 
Comptroller General is authorized to obtain agency records 
necessary to discharge his audit, evaluation, and investigative 
duties on behalf of Congress. Both GAO and Congress face 
cognizable injury when the Comptroller General is denied access 
to agency records sought to fulfill his statutory mission to 
inform Congress. This ``informational'' injury is sufficient to 
satisfy the constitutional requirement of a justiciable ``case 
or controversy'' to enable the Comptroller General to pursue a 
civil action to enforce GAO's statutory right to access agency 
records to fulfill its reporting responsibilities to Congress. 
Thus, the bill definitively reaffirms the Comptroller General's 
authority to bring civil actions, as necessary, to obtain 
agency records required to discharge his duties.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \1\Walker v. Cheney, 230 F. Supp. 2d 51 (D.D.C. 2002).
    \2\Pub. L. No. 96-226, codified at 31 U.S.C. Sec. 716(b)(2).
    \3\Walker v. Cheney, 230 F. Supp. 2d 51 (D.D.C. 2002).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    The decision in Walker v. Cheney is inconsistent with the 
Comptroller General's role and responsibility set forth in 
GAO's statute and congressional intent. The decision undermines 
GAO's ability to successfully carry out the investigative 
responsibilities delegated to it by Congress as well as 
Congress' constitutional prerogatives to determine how best to 
carry out its oversight responsibilities. For these reasons, S. 
2991 reaffirms and makes explicit the authorization that 
Congress gave to the Comptroller General to redress the injury-
in-fact sustained when agencies improperly withhold material 
from GAO, by initiating a lawsuit, without the need for 
additional approval. It is this Committee's expectation that 
before pursuing such litigation the Comptroller General will, 
as he did prior to filing Walker v. Cheney, first exhaust other 
avenues that are available to obtain the necessary information. 
Should such attempts fail, however, it is the intention of 
Congress to allow the Comptroller General to seek a judicial 
remedy to enforce GAO's right to information under the law.
    S. 2991 also reaffirms that GAO not only has the statutory 
right to inspect agency records,\4\ but also to make and retain 
copies of agency records. A number of court precedents have 
established that the statutory right to inspect a record 
implies the right to inspect them in an effective manner, which 
would include the copying of documents.\5\ In order for GAO to 
effectively carry out its statutory responsibilities, it is 
necessary for GAO to make and retain copies of such records. At 
times, however, GAO has found its audit, evaluation, and 
investigative efforts frustrated and delayed by agencies that 
insist that GAO review records only on site, without making 
copies, even in situations that do not involve sensitive 
information or any other practical justifications for denying 
GAO the ability to copy necessary records. Accordingly, S. 2991 
specifies that GAO has a right to make and retain copies of 
records.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \4\31 U.S.C. Sec. 716(a).
    \5\See Westside Ford, Inc. v. United States, 206 F.2d 627, 634 (9th 
Cir., 1953); Riley v. McGarry, 248 F. Supp. 545 (D. Mass, 1966).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    S. 2991 further strengthens GAO's authorities by expanding 
the Comptroller General's authority to administer oaths. 
Presently, the Comptroller General is authorized to administer 
oaths only ``when auditing and settling accounts.''\6\ When GAO 
was established in 1921 as the General Accounting Office, its 
principal focus was auditing accounts, but that is no longer 
the case. Congress has since called upon the Comptroller 
General to perform many other audit, investigative, and 
evaluative roles. These roles periodically entail situations 
involving potential fraud or attempts to defraud the United 
States or irregularities or misconduct of an employee or agent 
of the United States. In such situations, the ability to 
administer oaths can be an important tool for the Comptroller 
General to accomplish GAO's work for the Congress.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \6\31 U.S.C. Sec. 711(4).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    S. 2991 also addresses longstanding problems GAO has faced 
with certain federal agencies that have resisted GAO scrutiny. 
The bill makes clear GAO's existing right to access information 
at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the Food 
and Drug Administration (FDA), the Federal Trade Commission 
(FTC), and the Department of Justice (DOJ). Despite arguments 
to the contrary, GAO has rightful access to information from 
these agencies, including in certain contested circumstances. 
For example, HHS has construed the Social Security Act as 
precluding GAO access to the National Directory of New Hires, a 
database of employment information critical to investigations 
of fraud in certain Social Security Act programs, because GAO 
is not expressly listed as an authorized recipient of the data. 
The new 31 U.S.C. Sec. 721(a) would prohibit HHS from denying 
or limiting GAO's access to any material merely because 
governing statutes do not expressly identify GAO as a recipient 
of information or provide for its access to information, 
thereby confirming GAO's existing statutory right of access in 
these types of cases.
    Similarly, the FDA has construed a provision of the Federal 
Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act to authorize it to disclose trade 
secrets information to GAO only for studies requested by a 
chair of a committee or subcommittee of jurisdiction, and only 
when the requests specifically refer to GAO's need for trade 
secrets information. FDA does not separate trade secrets 
information from other information on regulated entities that 
is needed for audits and investigations and, thus, according to 
GAO, FDA's view has adversely affected GAO's access to a wide 
range of information beyond trade secrets. Gaining access to 
needed information has involved time-consuming procedural 
steps, including the redaction of trade secrets information, 
and substantial delays in GAO's work. The new section 721(b) 
would remove any doubt as to GAO's authority to obtain trade 
secrets information from the FDA.
    The FTC and the DOJ have denied GAO information based on 
their reading of the Hart-Scott-Rodino Act, which requires 
companies to file information with the FTC and DOJ before 
mergers and other transactions can be consummated. The FTC and 
DOJ have routinely denied GAO access to pre-merger information 
and argue that under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Act and related case 
law they can provide such information only to a Committee or 
Subcommittee Chair. The Hart-Scott-Rodino Act exempts from 
public disclosure, under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), 
the pre-merger materials required to be filed with the FTC and 
the Department of Justice. FOIA does not apply to GAO, however, 
so GAO has access to these pre-merger filings under GAO's basic 
access authority. The new section 721(c) makes clear that GAO 
has the authority to obtain this information from the FTC and 
the DOJ.
    The Committee recognizes GAO's exemplary record of 
protecting the most sensitive information it routinely obtains 
from agencies across government--ranging from highly classified 
national security documents to taxpayer return information--and 
the Committee is confident that GAO will rigorously maintain 
the confidentiality of information obtained under these new 
sections.
    Finally, the Committee notes that S. 2991 responds 
primarily to long-standing problems GAO has faced in its 
efforts to obtain information and material from executive 
branch agencies. During the Committee's consideration of the 
bill, the Judicial Conference of the United States expressed 
concerns about how these authorities would apply to it. It 
shared its view that the judicial branch has a unique role, 
structure, operations, and mission different from that of the 
executive branch. It believes that questions remain regarding 
the appropriate process and procedures under which GAO accesses 
and obtains certain information from the judicial branch. Those 
questions were outside the immediate scope of this bill. The 
Committee expects GAO, in consultation with the Administrative 
Office of the U.S. Courts (AOUSC) and other appropriate 
entities, to develop GAO protocols outlining the procedures it 
will follow in future reviews relating to the judicial branch. 
GAO and the AOUSC should inform this and other relevant 
Committees when they have completed this effort and whether 
they believe additional legislative action is warranted.

                        III. Legislative History

    On February 4, 2010, Senators McCaskill and Collins 
introduced S. 2991, which was read twice and referred to the 
Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. 
The Committee considered the bill on July 28, 2010. The 
Committee adopted, by voice vote, a substitute amendment 
offered by Senators McCaskill and Collins and then ordered the 
bill favorably reported, also by voice vote. Members present 
for the votes on the substitute amendment and on the bill were 
Senators Lieberman, Levin, Akaka, Carper, Pryor, Landrieu, 
McCaskill, Tester, Kaufman, Collins, and McCain.
    The substitute amendment makes four significant changes to 
the original bill. First, the substitute clarifies GAO's 
existing authority to access information by specifically 
stating that three particular statutes under which agencies 
have routinely denied GAO access do not limit GAO's authority 
to obtain records and information. These statutes are: (1) the 
Social Security Act; (2) the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic 
Act; and (3) the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act 
of 1976. Second, the substitute amendment adds a requirement 
that GAO prescribe policies and procedures for the protection 
from public disclosure of proprietary or trade secret 
information. Third, the substitute amendment strikes the 
language in the bill as introduced allowing for interviews of 
agency employees. Lastly, the substitute substantially narrowed 
a provision in the bill as introduced regarding GAO's authority 
to administer oaths to witnesses. Under the new provision, GAO 
may administer oaths only if the Comptroller General gives 
prior and express approval and only if the testimony is in the 
course of specific types of investigations. The new language is 
modeled on the authority available to executive departments 
under 5 U.S.C. Sec. 303, which allows lawfully assigned 
investigators to administer an oath to a witness who is 
testifying or being deposed in the course of an investigation 
into fraud or employee misconduct or irregularity.\7\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \7\5 U.S.C. Sec. 303.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

               IV. Section-by-Section Summary of the Bill


Section 1: Short title

    The short title of the bill is the ``Government 
Accountability Office Improvement Act of 2010.''

Section 2: Authority to obtain records

    Section 2(a) amends 31 U.S.C. Sec. 716(a) to explicitly 
reaffirm that Congress has authorized GAO to pursue civil 
actions if federal agencies improperly withhold records from 
GAO.
    Section 2(b) also amends 31 U.S.C. Sec. 716(a) to make 
clear that the Comptroller General has not only the right to 
inspect agency records, but also to make and retain copies of 
such records.

Section 3: Administering oaths

    Section 3 amends 31 U.S.C. Sec. 711 to modernize the 
Comptroller General's authority, subject to appropriate 
safeguards, to administer oaths to witnesses in specific types 
of GAO investigations. Section 3 amends GAO's existing 
authority to allow the Comptroller General to administer oaths 
to witnesses when investigating fraud, attempts to defraud the 
United States, or irregularities or misconduct by a federal 
employee or agent.

Section 4: Access to certain information

    Section 4(a) adds a new section, 31 U.S.C. Sec. 721, which 
makes clear that the Social Security Act, the Federal Food, 
Drug, and Cosmetic Act, and the Hart-Scott-Rodino Act do not 
limit GAO's right of access to information.
    Section 721(a) confirms GAO's existing authority to review 
information at the Department of Health and Human Services, 
including the National Directory of New Hires.
    Section 721(b) confirms GAO's existing authority to review 
trade secret information held by the Food and Drug 
Administration.
    Section 721(c) confirms that GAO has the authority to 
access pre-merger filing information with the Federal Trade 
Commission and the Department of Justice.
    In recognition of the sensitivity of the information that 
agencies may provide to GAO, new section 721(d) requires GAO to 
prescribe policies and procedures necessary to protect 
proprietary or trade secrets information from public 
disclosure. It also states that it does not modify 18 U.S.C. 
Sec. 1905, which prohibits the disclosure of trade secrets and 
other sensitive information, or affect the applicability of 31 
U.S.C. Sec. 716(e), which requires GAO to safeguard the 
confidentiality of information and also protects against 
unauthorized disclosure.
    New section 721(e) makes clear that the references to 
specific statutory provisions in this section are not intended 
to affect GAO's access to information under existing statutes 
that are not specifically identified in the new section 721. 
The Committee expects that agencies will treat situations 
covered by the new section 721, and analogous situations not 
expressly addressed in a similar manner, thus giving full 
effect to GAO's existing right of access and facilitating 
rather than impeding congressional oversight.

Section 5: Agency reports

    This section amends 31 U.S.C. Sec. 720(b) to allow an 
agency more flexibility in reporting to Congress on its 
response to a GAO recommendation. Currently, agencies must 
report two months after issuance of a GAO report on ``action 
taken.'' This provision allows the agency to report on actions 
``planned'' or taken in response to a GAO recommendation. In 
addition, the section expands the list of recipients of an 
agency report to include GAO and the congressional committees 
of jurisdiction over the agency program or activity that is the 
subject of the recommendation.

                  V. Regulatory Impact and Evaluation

    Pursuant to the requirements of paragraph 11(b) of rule 
XXVI of the Standing Rules of the Senate, the Committee has 
considered the regulatory impact of this bill. The 
Congressional Budget Office states that the bill contains no 
intergovernmental or private sector mandates as defined in the 
Unfunded Mandate Reform Act and would not affect the budgets of 
state, local, or tribal governments. The enactment of this 
legislation will not have significant regulatory impact.

             VI. Congressional Budget Office Cost Estimate

                                                    August 5, 2010.
Hon. Joseph I. Lieberman,
Chairman, Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, U.S. 
        Senate, Washington, DC.
    Dear Mr. Chairman: The Congressional Budget Office has 
prepared the enclosed cost estimate for S. 2991, the Government 
Accountability Office Improvement Act of 2010.
    If you wish further details on this estimate, we will be 
pleased to provide them. The CBO staff contact is Matthew 
Pickford.
            Sincerely,
                                              Douglas W. Elmendorf.
    Enclosure.

S. 2991--Government Accountability Office Improvement Act of 2010

    S. 2991 would provide additional authorities to the 
Government Accountability Office (GAO), including the ability 
to obtain certain records and information, and to administer 
oaths. The legislation also would require GAO to establish 
procedures to protect certain proprietary information that it 
collects when carrying out its responsibilities.
    CBO estimates that implementing the legislation would have 
no significant impact on the federal budget. Enacting the bill 
would not affect direct spending or revenues; therefore, pay-
as-you-go procedures do not apply.
    S. 2991 contains no intergovernmental or private-sector 
mandates as defined in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act and 
would not affect the budgets of state, local, or tribal 
governments.
    On June 9, 2009, CBO transmitted a cost estimate for H.R. 
2646, the Government Accountability Office Improvement Act of 
2009, as ordered reported by the House Committee on Oversight 
and Government Reform on June 4, 2009. The two pieces of 
legislation and CBO's cost estimates are similar.
    The CBO staff contact for this estimate is Matthew 
Pickford. The estimate was approved by Theresa Gullo, Deputy 
Assistant Director for Budget Analysis.

                      VII. Changes in Existing Law

    In compliance with paragraph 12 of rule XXVI of the 
Standing Rules of the Senate, the following changes in existing 
law made by S. 2991, as reported, are shown as follows 
(existing law proposed to be omitted is enclosed in black 
brackets, new matter is printed in italic, existing law in 
which no change is proposed is shown in roman).

                      TITLE 31--MONEY AND FINANCE

                          Subtitle I--General

              CHAPTER 7--GOVERNMENT ACCOUNTABILITY OFFICE


Subchapter I--Definitions and General Organization

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *


    Section
    701.  Definitions

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *

    721.  Access to certain information.

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *


SECTION 711. GENERAL AUTHORITY.

    The Comptroller General may
          (1) * * *

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *

          [(4) administer oaths to witnesses when auditing and 
        settling accounts.]
          (4) administer oaths to witnesses when auditing and 
        settling accounts and, with the prior express approval 
        of the Comptroller General, when investigating fraud or 
        attempts to defraud the United States, or irregularity 
        or misconduct of an employee or agent of the United 
        States.

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *


                      TITLE 31--MONEY AND FINANCE

                          Subtitle I--General

              CHAPTER 7--GOVERNMENT ACCOUNTABILITY OFFICE


Subchapter II--General Duties and Powers

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *



SECTION 716. AVAILABILITY OF INFORMATION AND INSPECTION OF RECORDS.

    (a)(1) The Comptroller General is authorized to obtain such 
agency records as the Comptroller General requires to discharge 
his duties (including audit, evaluation, and investigative 
duties), including through the bringing of civil actions under 
this section. In reviewing a civil action in this section, the 
court shall recognize the continuing force and effect of the 
authorization in the preceding sentence until such time as the 
authorization is repealed pursuant to law.
    [(a)](2) Each agency shall give the Comptroller General 
information the Comptroller General requires about the duties, 
powers, activities, organization, and financial transactions of 
the agency. The Comptroller General may [inspect an agency 
record] inspect, and make and retain copies of, an agency 
record to get the information. This subsection does not apply 
to expenditures made under section 3524 or 3526(e) of this 
title.

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *


SECTION 720. AGENCY REPORTS.

    (a) * * *
    (b) When the Comptroller General makes a report that 
includes a recommendation to the head of an agency, the head of 
the agency shall submit a written statement on action taken or 
planned on the recommendation by the head of the agency. The 
statement shall be submitted to--
          [(1) the Committee on Governmental Affairs of the 
        Senate and the Committee on Government Operations of 
        the House of Representatives before the 61st day after 
        the date of the report; and]
          (1) the Committee on Homeland Security and 
        Governmental Affairs of the Senate, the Committee on 
        Oversight and Government Reform of the House of 
        Representatives, the congressional committees with 
        jurisdiction over the agency program or activity that 
        is the subject of the recommendation, and the 
        Government Accountability Office before the 61st day 
        after the date of the report; and
          (2) the Committees on Appropriations of both Houses 
        of Congress in the first request for appropriations 
        submitted more than 60 days after the date of the 
        report.

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *


SECTION 721. ACCESS TO CERTAIN INFORMATION.

    (a) No provision of the Social Security Act, including 
section 453(1) of that Act (42 U.S.C. 653(1)), shall be 
construed to limit, amend or supersede the authority of the 
Comptroller General to obtain any information or to inspect or 
copy any record under section 716 of this title.
    (b) No provision of the Federal, Food, Drug and Cosmetic 
Act, including section 301(j) of that Act (21 U.S.C. 331(j)), 
shall be construed to limit, amend, or supersede the authority 
of the Comptroller General to obtain any information or to 
inspect or copy any record under section 716 of this title.
    (c) No provision of the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust 
Improvements Act of 1976 (Public Law 94-435) and the amendments 
made by that Act shall be construed to limit, amend, or 
supersede the authority of the Comptroller General to obtain 
any information or to inspect or copy any record under section 
716 of this title, including with respect to any information 
disclosed to the Assistant Attorney General of the Antitrust 
Division of the Department of Justice or the Federal Trade 
Commission for purposes of pre-merger review under section 7A 
of the Clayton Act (15 U.S.C. 18a).
    (d)(1) The Comptroller General shall prescribe such 
policies and procedures as are necessary to protect from public 
disclosure proprietary or trade secret information obtained 
consistent with this section.
    (2) Nothing in this section shall be construed--
          (A) to alter or amend the prohibitions against the 
        disclosure of trade secret or other sensitive 
        information prohibited by section 1905 of title 18 and 
        other applicable laws; or
          (B) to affect the applicability of section 716(e) of 
        this title, including the protections against 
        unauthorized disclosure contained in that section, to 
        information obtained consistent with this section.
    (e) Specific references to statutes in this section shall 
not be construed to affect access by the Government 
Accountability Office to information under statutes that are 
not so referenced.