The Digital Accountability and Transparency Act (DATA Act) was signed into law by President Obama on May 9, 2014, after unanimously passing both The House of Representatives and The Senate. Since its founding in February 2012, the Data Transparency Coalition has made the creation and successful implementation of the DATA Act its top priority.
The DATA Act requires the federal government to standardize and publish reports and data compilations related to spending. These relate to topics including financial management, payments, budget actions, procurement, and assistance. By standardizing the way this information is published, information on federal spending will be readily available and clearer, making steps toward putting a stop to duplication, waste, and fraud.
“In the digital age, we should be able to search online to see how every grant, contract, and disbursement is spent in a more connected and transparent way through the federal government,” said Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA), a co-sponsor of the bill, after its passage.
Standardization will undoubtedly have benefits, but it is a large hurdle for federal agencies to surmount. The community of federal grant recipients has identified as many as 1,100 different data elements that could be included in standard reporting. The implementation of the bill is another hurdle. The final language requires everything the federal government spends at the appropriations account level to be published on USASpending.gov, with the exception of classified material and information that wouldn’t be revealed in response to a Freedom of Information Request.
VARs should familiarize themselves with the DATA Act to make themselves aware of opportunities and challenges that result from the new law that will regulate how the government reports its spending information.