Oversight Leaders Introduce Bipartisan DATA ACT

Published: May 21, 2013

WASHINGTON – House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., and Ranking Member Elijah Cummings, D-Md., today introduced bipartisan legislation to improve the quality and utility of federal spending information. The Digital Accountability and Transparency Act (DATA Act) establishes governmentwide financial data standards and improves the management and completeness of USASpending.gov, a transparency portal created in 2006 by legislation sponsored by Senator Tom Coburn, R-Okla., and then-Senator Barack Obama, D-Illi.

Currently, agencies are only required to report awards, like grants and contracts, into USASpending.gov. Under the DATA Act, agencies would be required to report internal spending. The legislation would also require the Treasury Department to report disbursement information into USASpending.gov, and give Treasury the responsibility for managing the portal and establishing the data standards.

“The American people deserve accurate, timely, and complete checkbook level spending information,” said Chairman Issa. “The DATA Act will standardize and open federal spending data so that those inside and outside of government can actually use spending data to save taxpayer dollars by cutting waste, fighting fraud, and spending smarter.”

“By providing taxpayers with information about how their money is being spent, the DATA Act will empower them to hold the government accountable and will make our government more effective and efficient,” said Ranking Member Cummings.
Under the DATA Act, federal spending information would conform to President Obama’s recently released Open Data Policy, which outlines a seven-part definition for open data.  

The Digital Accountability and Transparency Act (DATA Act), is a companion to legislation introduced by Senator Mark Warner, D-Va., and Senator Rob Portman, R-Ohio.

“This legislation will allow us to track the full cycle of federal spending on one website, and that should be incredibly helpful to both taxpayers and policy makers,” Senator Warner said. “The DATA Act will require spending transparency at the program level and will aid our efforts to make smarter investments while reducing improper payments and fraud. This legislation is an example of how Washington is supposed to work — across the aisle and on both sides of the Capitol.”

“At a time when the government is running trillion-dollar deficits on top of a record $16 trillion debt, Washington should be doing all it can to track how taxpayer dollars are spent.  Better visibility and public disclosure of our government’s $3 trillion in yearly spending is critical to identifying and eliminating waste,” Senator Portman said.  “Our bill would reform and significantly improve USASpending.gov by strengthening federal financial transparency, empowering taxpayers to see how their money is spent, and providing a better tool for eliminating waste, fraud and abuse.”
The Committee expects to consider the DATA Act on Wednesday at a full committee business meeting. For more information on the DATA Act, please visit https://republicans-oversight.house.gov/DATA.