OMB beats deadline to unveil federal spending database

On Thursday, the Office of Management and Budget will unveil USAspending.gov, the federal spending database required by the Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act. The launch comes more than two weeks before the congressionally mandated deadline of Jan. 1, 2008.

The database’s initial functionality will include the ability to search contracts and grants but not other types of spending data such as loans, said Robert Shea, OMB’s associate director of administration and government performance and lead on developing the FederalSpending.gov Web site, at a recent event sponsored by OMB Watch.

Karen Evans, OMB’s administrator for e-government and information technology, said yesterday at a Senate hearing on e-government that the new portal will also enable users to comment on how the Bush administration has interpreted the 2006 law.

“We will get feedback and incorporate it as we refine the database,” she said during the hearing.

Shea said the federal version of the database will have an application program interface that will make it easier for users to write software that links with the database so they can obtain the data they need.

According to FederalSpending.gov, the database will include:



  • The name and unique identifier of the entity receiving the award.

  • The location of the entity receiving the award.

  • The amount of the award.

  • Information on the award, including transaction type and funding agency.


In the short term, OMB is building on OMB Watch’s FedSpending.org database and adding functionality. In the longer term, it hopes to use network-centric technology to connect disparate government databases. The Defense Department is leading a pilot program that started in July to demonstrate that approach.

“We congratulate OMB on launching USAspending.gov ahead of schedule,” said Gary Bass, OMB Watch’s executive director. “I'm most impressed that the Web site exceeds the requirements of the law in several ways, including by providing information about competition in government contracting, an application programming interface that will allow Web developers to create tailored Web sites using the USAspending.gov data and a wiki to allow user discussion of the Web site.”

Although the law required OMB to launch the database by Jan. 1, 2008, the agency has until Jan. 1, 2009, to include subcontract and subgrant data.

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