Agencies Under The Gun To Meet Data Transparency Deadlines

Jack Moore | | December 3, 2014

The Obama administration has six months to prove its implementation of a sweeping new data transparency law is on track.  The Office of Management and Budget and the Treasury Department have until May 2015 to finish hammering out common standards for agencies to identify and track federal financial data as required by the Digital Accountability and and Transparency -- or DATA -- Act.  Lawmakers and congressional auditors say they’re closely tracking agencies’ progress.

"If that deadline slips, it's a real problem, because if that one slips, then other implementation deadlines will also slip. And I think all bets are off as to when we'll fully realize the full promise of the DATA Act,” said Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, one of the architects of the Senate version of the bill, who appeared before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on Wednesday.  The end goal of the DATA Act is to provide nearly all federal spending data in a single, searchable online database.

This "new and enhanced" -- in the words of David Mader, OMB’s controller -- "will become the authoritative source for basic information of how agencies budget, obligate and outlay their funds and how those dollars are ultimately disseminated through federal contracts, grants and other forms of expenditures."  Advocates of the law, such as Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., say the DATA Act, when fully realized, would provide near real-time visibility into federal dollars as they’re being spent by agencies, "startlingly improving our ability to go after waste, fraud and abuse," he said.  That vision won’t be fully implemented until 2018...