Archive for April, 2012
With the buzzwords “accountability” and “transparency” cited over and over, the House yesterday approved the DATA Act, a measure that would impose strict new reporting requirements on federal agencies and grant recipients.
Recipients would have to report at least quarterly on receipt and use of federal funds. Similarly, federal agencies would have to report at least quarterly on all obligations and expenditures of federal funds. The Treasury Department would also report federal agency obligations and expenditures, and all of this information would be identified by program, budget category, or other Treasury account number so that it could all be easily compared.
An interesting provision in this legislation is that it would not waive the reporting requirements for entities that receive small awards; only certain individuals would be exempt.
The House also attempted to put some teeth behind the measure by allowing federal agencies to impose penalties of up to $250,000 on recipients who fail to meet the reporting requirements. To enforce agency reporting, OMB would be directed to issue guidance requiring compliance with the new act.
The Data Accountability and Transparency Act (HR 2146) would also create a new oversight panel, the Federal Accountability and Spending Transparency Commission. This commission would have extensive power. For example, it would establish reporting deadlines, specify the data elements and the format of reports, and issue guidance to federal agencies and recipients on compliance with the new law.
Also, rather than repealing the Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act, as was originally proposed in the House bill, the measure that members approved yesterday would amend that legislation by aligning it with the new reporting and transferring control over FFATA reporting and USAspending.gov from OMB to the new council.
A companion measure was introduced in the Senate earlier this year, but is still awaiting action in the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs.
Federal awarding officials now have a new tool to help them confirm individual and entity eligibility before making any grant, loan, contract, or benefit payment. Launched today, the new Do Not Pay List web site is a single point of entry for accessing relevant data.
The portal allows federal agencies to to access data sources including the Death Master File, the Excluded Parties List System, Treasury’s Debt Check Database, and the List of Excluded Individuals and Entities. The site also offers data analysis of information from other sources that are not currently available through the portal, such as prison information and several privately available sources.
OMB Memo 12-11 directs federal agencies to submit to OMB a draft of the agency’s plan for using this new tool by June 30, 2012. OMB will review those plans and agencies will finalize them no later than Aug. 31,2012.
This month the National Institutes of Health will begin pilot testing the new governmentwide Research Performance Progress Report (RPPR).
Seven institutions will pilot the RPPR for NIH beginning in April 2012. During the initial pilot the RPPR will be used only for progress reports under awards that do not require submission of an annual detailed budget (i.e., awarded under the Streamlined Noncompeting Award Process or SNAP) and for individual fellowships. NIH anticipates expanding the pilot in the summer of 2012 to include all Federal Demonstration Partnership (FDP) institutions.
Grantees will complete the RPPR electronically through the eRA Commons. Although the information that grantees will provide is not significantly different from what is currently reported, the format of the RPPR will be new to NIH grantees. The RPPR will consist of a series of 8 screens where grantees will answer questions using a checkbox, by entering text or uploading a PDF, or selecting “Nothing to Report.”
The timing of full implementation of the NIH RPPR will be determined based upon the success of the initial pilot.
For additional information, visit the NIH RPPR web site.