CBO estimates cost of DATA Act

The federal government would need to spend $575 million over five years to create new structures and systems to oversee federal spending under the Digital Accountability and Transparency (DATA) Act of 2011 proposed by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), according to a report from the Congressional Budget Office.

Under Issa’s proposal, a new Federal Accountability and Spending Transparency Board would replace the board currently overseeing Recovery.gov, which reports on spending under the economic stimulus law of 2009.


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The new board would have the authority to establish data standards to track and report data on all federal spending, including contracts, grants and loans.

The CBO report of Sept. 16 estimates the cost of operating the new board and its staffing and activities at $250 million over five years.

In addition, the legislation authorizes creation of a single comprehensive database of federal spending on contracts, grants and loans to be displayed on a public website.

“Creating this website would involve combining and eliminating some current systems," the CBO report states. The board would also establish consistent definitions for data, reporting, and standards for agencies and recipients of funds.

The net cost of creating the comprehensive website, establishing data standards and streamlining existing systems would be $325 million over five years. That figure takes into account savings that would result from ending the authorities of the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board, which oversees Recovery.gov, and savings from eliminating some federal information systems, the report states.

The sum also takes into account additional costs that would be incurred for computers, training, activities to standardize financial reporting, and communications between agencies and recipients about the reporting.

Issa is chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, which approved the DATA Act (H.R. 2146) in June.

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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