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House passes amended DATA act

Apr. 28, 2014 - 06:00AM   |  
By ANDY MEDICI   |   Comments
US Republican Representative Darrell Iss
Rep. Darrell Issa spearheaded the DATA Act in the House. (TIM SLOAN / AFP/Getty Images)

Legislation mandating detailed reporting on federal spending passed the House Monday and is heading for President Obama’s signature.

The Digital Accountability and Transparency Act —also called the DATA Act —would expand agency transparency requirements to include spending data for all federal funds spent or granted by any federal agency. The data would continue through contractors and subcontractors or grantees in as much detail as possible. The data would then be reported publicly on the spending website USAspending.gov.

The House had passed an earlier version, which the Senate amended and passed unanimously on April 10. Sens. Mark Warner, D-Va., and Rob Portman, R-Ohio, sponsored the Senate legislation. Now the House has passed the Senate version by voice vote.

“The DATA Act is but a first shot in a technological revolution that will transform the way we govern,” Issa said on the House floor before the bill’s passage.

He said agencies are unable to detail how much they spend on each of their programs – or how many programs there are. The data agencies currently provide are often incomplete or inaccurate, Issa added. He said agencies were unable to fix the situation on their own and congressional action was needed.

“The American people deserve to know if their taxpayer dollars are wasted or are being spent wisely,” said Rep. Darrell Issa, R.-Calif. “The DATA Act gives policymakers in Congress and in the executive branch better data to make better decisions.”

The legislation will also:

■ Set governmentwide financial data standards to make all spending data adhere to a uniform set of guidelines.

■ Require Inspectors General at each agency to provide reports on the quality and accuracy of the financial data.

■ Establish a cutting-edge data analytics center modeled after the Recovery Act that would help identify and prevent improper payments and expand analytic efforts across the government by serving agency leaders, inspectors general and watchdog groups.

The legislation will also launch a two-year pilot project for federal money recipients such as universities or state and local governments to standardize and streamline how they report spending federal dollars.

After the two years the director of the Office of Management and Budget will issue guidance to agencies on how to streamline recipient reporting requirements and integrate that data into their own reporting.

“Both individuals and entities will be able to create tools where on your iPhone or on your android you will be able to ask a question and get an answer,” Issa said.

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