DATA Act Standards Set to Bring More Light to Federal Spending

Posted by Angie Petty on September 15, 2015

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For the last year, OMB and the Treasury Department have been working to implement the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act (DATA) which promises to lend visibility into the world of federal spending.

The DATA act was signed into law in June 2014 with the purpose of linking agency expenditures to federal programs, establishing government-wide financial data standards, and providing consistent, reliable, and searchable government-wide spending data on USASpending.gov.

Late last month, OMB and Treasury released 57 finalized data standards. The federal spending transparency data standards were the product of months of stakeholder collaboration and engagement to include a town hall meeting, webinar and collaboration website. Stakeholder participation and communication will continue to shape the ongoing implementation of the DATA act, according to a blog post on the website by David Mader, the controller of the Office of Federal Financial Management at OMB.

“By standardizing what is published on USAspending.gov and providing context and a user-friendly format, we have taken an important step to provide valuable, usable information on how tax dollars are spent, who they are spent on and for what purpose,” the blog post stated.

The DATA Act is different from other transparency laws in that oversight is baked into implementation requirements. The Act calls for agency Inspectors General, in conjunction with GAO, to audit samples of spending data submitted to USASpending.gov to test for quality, timeliness, completeness and accuracy and to report findings to Congress three times over the next six years. The first IG reports are due to Congress in November 2016.

The act has a seven year implementation timeline and agencies are to start submitting data that meets the new standards before May 2017.

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