Digital Accountability and Transparency Act of 2011

October 5, 2011 § Leave a comment

On June 13, 2011, the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act (hereafter DATA Act) was introduced to the House of Representatives. If enacted, the DATA Act would require every recipient of federal funds, including grants, contracts, loans, and agencies’ internal expenses, to report each receipt and use of such funds at least quarterly.

According to the proposed legislation, these reports would go to the Federal Accountability and Spending Transparency Board (FASTB) established by the DATA Act. The FASTB would absorb all functions and select employees of the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board (RATB) and would be established in the executive branch.

Under the proposed legislation, this Board would designate common data elements for information required to be reported and data reporting standards. Individual recipients may be exempt if the total amount of federal funds received is $100,000 or less during the current calendar or fiscal year and the recipient has not received $25,000 or more of federal funds in any single transaction during the current calendar year or fiscal year. The FASTB may grant additional exemptions for categories of recipients.

The DATA Act would require that the reported information do the following:

  • Identify the executive funding agency
  • Identify the award
  • Identify the program
  • List the total funding received
  • List the total funding obligated or expended
  • Provide a detailed list of all projects or activities for which Federal funds were expended or obligated

As laid out in the proposed legislation, the FASTB must establish one or more websites for the publication of all information submitted by recipients and agencies. This website(s) will serve as a free, searchable, and downloadable public portal for federal financial information. The website will absorb the functions and data of USAspending.gov and provide for public input on the website’s usefulness.

The FASTB will also establish one or more websites to serve as a federal accountability portal.  This portal will:

  • Combine the reported information with any additional information the government may possess
  • Allow federal entities to determine the eligibility of grant recipients
  • Allow executive agencies, Inspectors General (IGs), and law enforcement agencies to track federal awards to detect fraud, waste, and abuse

If passed, the DATA Act will make conforming amendments to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 to terminate the RATB on October 1, 2013. In addition, the DATA Act will repeal the Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act of 2006. As of September 2011, the Act was in review with the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

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