Treasury official calls for quick Data Act demos

As Treasury moves to implement the Data Act, potential costs and agency buy-in remain concerns.

Treasury official Dick Gregg is in charge of implementing the recently enacted Data Act.

The three-year schedule to implement the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act, a measure that puts federal financial data on a single, machine-readable standard and requires its publication to the public online, might be too ambitious, said Dick Gregg, fiscal assistant secretary of the Treasury and the executive in charge of implementing the law.

"It will be difficult and maybe impossible in some areas to hit all the timelines," Gregg said on May 20 at the Federal Financial Management Conference in Washington, D.C., before an audience of government accountants and financial managers who will be on the front lines of implementing the changes required under the Data Act.

The challenge is for Treasury and the Office of Management and Budget to come up with a standard for publishing financial data, then convert federal financial management systems to that standard. There was no money included in the law to finance the effort, but agencies will surely need some resources to implement changes.

"I'm not sure what the approach of OMB will be when agencies make requests," Gregg said. "There will be some costs. It's important to work together to figure out how to minimize the cost of doing this." One way is to leverage gains made in the Treasury's own internal goal of improving financial transparency through the management of the USASpending.gov website, which recently moved to Treasury from OMB as part of the fiscal 2014 budget.

The low-cost approach means there won't be any massive new systems built to accommodate the new law. Instead, Gregg is looking to a "data-centric" approach that tags financial data so it can be used by multiple systems. In addition, Gregg wants to move fast on testing out approaches to implementing the law to see what works. He wants to see demonstration pilots up and running in "weeks and months," Gregg said, "to see if they will help us lead the way."

The shift to a federal-first approach to agency financial management could help streamline the process, Gregg pointed out. "Shared services is a force multiplier," Gregg said, because consolidation of financial management at the four providers means that agencies will be able to outsource some of their compliance. "The sooner we can move more agencies into shared services, the easier it's going to be for them to implement the Data Act," Gregg said.

The financial management community will reap the benefits as well, Gregg said. The new emphasis on standardization means that chief financial officers can shift from systems implementation and operation to the more interesting and rewarding work of managing programs.

While the Data Act was billed by its congressional backers as a way to improve transparency and oversight of federal spending, it is also potentially a valuable tool for federal executives, said Christina Ho, the Treasury official charged with developing the ground game for agencies to implement the measure.

The pitch to agencies is that with successful implementation of the Data Act, the practice of carrying out time-consuming data calls to answer questions from executives, OMB, and oversight bodies will be a thing of the past. "I think that we definitely need agencies ... not to make assumptions that this is going to be a huge burden," Ho said. "If we do this right and build a data-centric approach, in the future there won't be data calls. People can get the answer themselves."

"Not every agency has access to their own data in a way that is integrated and meaningful. That impedes the ability of executives to make decisions that are mission-focused and program focused," Ho said. The Data Act doesn't just help inform citizens, it helps inform executives, she said.

NEXT STORY: Sneaking up on agile development

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.