OMB updates guidance for stimulus money

Federal agencies must report to a central repository on 41 separate data elements for expenditures under the economic stimulus law, according to new White House guidance.

Office of Management and Budget Director Peter Orszag released the 175-page memorandum April 3 as a second installment of governmentwide requirements for the reporting of spending activity under the law. The first round of guidance was issued on Feb. 18.

The second guidance has an overview of the stimulus spending and a Q&A on aspects of the reporting. It outlines plans developed since February to centralize reporting of the spending.

“Since the initial guidance was issued, OMB has concluded that the development of a central collection and reporting capability is likely to lower system-development costs across the federal government, improve the consistency of the data collected, improve access to the information by citizens and others outside federal agencies, and prevent recipients from having to enter data into separate systems for multiple agencies,” Orszag wrote.

The central system capability is expected to be available in 45 days after the statutory reporting deadline of Oct. 10, the document states.

The 41 specified data elements include basic information such as the name of the federal agency, the name of the recipient of the money and dates of performance milestones. They also include more complex elements such as descriptions of the expected public benefits of each program, the rate of competition expected in contracts, efforts to provide transparency and work toward “green” goals. Each of those categories allows for 4,000 characters.

OMB asked for public comment and questions on the memorandum through e-mail messages addressed to recovery@omb.eop.gov. All messages should have the term “guidance feedback” in the title of the e-mail. OMB said it will issue a subsequent memorandum in the next 30 to 60 days clarifying any updates to the guidance based on the feedback.

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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