The Hill

Issa lobbies for data act

U.S. Capitol at Night

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) is looking for support among his colleagues on both sides of the aisle for a bill that would change the way the federal government releases financial data to the public. The chairman of the House Oversight and Government Affairs committee took advantage of a recess lull in the legislative news cycle to circulate a memorandum touting the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act, which passed out of the committee on May 22 with unanimous support.

The DATA Act, as it is known, would require the federal government to adopt new standards for releasing financial data on USASpending.gov, and would move the operation of the site from the Office of Management and Budget to the Treasury Department. Some of the changes suggested by the DATA Act were incorporated in a June memo from deputy controller Norman Dong to agency chiefs, including the use of a single, consistent number for each individual award or contract. Additionally, President Obama’s 2014 budget includes a request to move responsibility for USASpending.gov from OMB to Treasury.

Regardless, Issa is asking his colleagues in the House for their support in bringing the stand-alone bill to the floor. He argues that legislative changes to USASpending.gov will require agencies to report internal spending, as well as awards. In addition, Issa argues, the changes will help agencies and watchdogs to use predictive analytics to watch for waste, fraud, and abuse; better evaluate risk in federal loan programs; better understand federal spending patterns with visualization tools; and match federal datasets to those being made available by state and local governments.

The full House passed a version of the DATA Act in 2012, but it was never taken up by the Senate. This year, however, a companion measure has been introduced by Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) and Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio).

About the Author

Adam Mazmanian is a staff writer covering Congress, the FCC and other key agencies. Connect with him on Twitter: @thisismaz.

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