DATA Act Implementation Impact
If you’ve already read the two DATA Act reports issued by the GAO since late July, you already know that the government watchdog has documented its concerns about DATA Act implementation. It’s only eight months away.
One of the things that surprised me is that OMB still does not have a complete list of the Federal agencies that will need to be DATA Act compliant. I understand the approach of starting with the 24 CFO agencies – but what about the goal of having transparency on every Federal dollar spent?
Between this lack of clarity and the release of the DAIMS just in May 2016, it makes sense why we’re hearing, “I know about the DATA Act. But how is it going to affect me?” And if you haven’t, looking at data schema and dictionaries in an effort to understand what’s happening may make your eyes roll back into the back of your head.
If you fall into this group, I recommend taking these initial actions:
- Keep the “So What” in mind. The Public, Congress, and Federal government should know who receives Federal funds from contracts and grants. In our day-to-day work of processing transactions and reports, it’s easy to lose sight that these funds are part of large investments in government services and policies to benefit the public.
- Find out more. Participate in our complimentary webinar on August 18. We’ll share with you the essential information you need to get started on your DATA Act journey, and share resources so you can keep current.
- Expect to use data more – because you’ll have more of it. The congressional team that drafted the DATA Act did so with the intention and expectation of receiving more and more accurate information on the government’s fiscal activities. We all need to increase our abilities to analyze and present data in support of our organization’s mission and goals.
- Ask around. The DATA Act won’t be successful unless all Federal agencies work together. Ask your colleagues if they’ve heard about this important law. If yes, inquire if they are working on implementation efforts and how they’re going.
If you’re ready to go to the next step, I’d start with the data definitions. Why? Because for the DATA Act to work, we need to start speaking the same language (and ensure our systems do as well). I like to think of this as we all understand what personal income is thanks to the fact we all complete our Federal income tax returns. It doesn’t matter what our background is or where we work.
Using the same terms has the additional benefit of making it easier to discuss the impacts as the government continues to plan and execute the implementation. This is especially important as agencies work to catch up from earlier delays.
It’s going to be a long journey. Better information to base decisions on will be worth the trip.