OMB details spending database instructions

The Office of Management and Budget has issued preliminary instructions Nov. 9 to agencies on how to report contract, grant and other types of financial data for inclusion in the Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act (FFATA) system.

In a memo to agency secretaries, Robert Shea, OMB’s associate director for management, said the administration will issue a final policy when it launches the database by Jan. 1, 2008.

“To ensure we are leveraging existing systems, functionality and available data to the fullest extent, we are requesting agencies examine their current processes for submitting contract data to [the General Services Administration’s] Federal Procurement Database System (FPDS)-Next Generation (NG), and processes for submitting grants, loans and other data to the Census Bureau’s Federal Assistance Award Database and ensure that all data are submitted in full accordance with system user guidelines,” Shea wrote. “Data submitted and posted to these systems in the past has been incomplete, untimely and inaccurate.”

GSA, acting as OMB’s procurement arm, awarded the contract to construct the FFATA database to Global Computing Enterprises in October for $0. GCE also runs FPDS-NG.

Congress gave OMB deadline of Jan. 1, 2008, to launch a publicly searchable database with all grant, contract and loan transactions.

“The necessary procedures for collecting and populating these new data will tax the current business processes for administering and reporting on different types of funding mechanisms,” Shea wrote. “As a result, OMB’s strategy for receiving and posting Transparency Act data is significantly tailored to different funding types, and it is imperative for agencies to closely review the following specific guidelines for submitting diverse funding mechanisms to OMB’s Web site.”

The memo lays out specific steps each agency must take to submit each type of data.

For example, OMB details five steps for contract data, They include reviewing all fiscal 2007 and 2008 data submitted to FPDS-NG, submitting all 2007 and 2008 data to GSA for posting by Nov. 30, and by Dec. 1 identifying any gaps for submitting data for transactions worth more than $25,000, an agency plan on how to close those deficiencies and quality and assurance measures to meet the plan.

“Agencies must continue to report data to FPDS-NG according to user guidelines,” Shea wrote. “Contract data are still due to FPDS-NG 3 work days following contract award regardless of OMB dates of submission.”

However, that is a temporary action, Shea wrote. GSA and GCE are modifying FPDS-NG to accept program source data directly from agencies and then that data will flow directly into the FFATA database, he wrote.

“Agencies then will no longer be required to submit a separate file containing this data when modifications to FPDS-NG are complete,” Shea wrote.

The memo also lays out eight steps for grant along with eight for loan and other financial data submissions to FFATA.

“Agencies will have the ability to preview their data submissions prior to full public release via a password-protected, government-only version of the Transparency Act Web application,” Shea wrote. “This ‘sandbox’ environment will be identical to the public version in terms of functionality, but will be updated with agency data several days prior to that data being provided via the publicly accessible Web site.”

Shea added that each month, three to five days before the information is publicly available, agencies will be notified to review the data.

“The primary purpose of this ‘sandbox’ environment is to allow agencies to view the mapping of [the Dun and Bradstreet] DUNS [Number] to Parent DUNS prior to full public release,” Shea wrote.

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