More Transparency, More Reporting?
It seems it is not a matter of whether, but when, the federal government will impose new reporting requirements on recipients of federal financial assistance. On the same day, President Obama issued a new executive order on the matter while a key member of Congress introduced legislation that could have a drastic impact on grants management.
Both the executive order and the legislation have the ultimate goals of increasing transparency (read increasing reporting) and reducing waste. And both are based largely on the lessons learned through the Recovery Act. So the impetus for the changes in transparency, accountability, and reporting is strong. The only questions that remain are how to reach those goals.
Obama’s initiative, which is being spearheaded by Vice President Biden, creates a new Government Accountability and Transparency Board to “provide strategic direction for enhancing the transparency of federal spending and advance efforts to detect and remediate fraud, waste, and abuse.”
Obama’s order goes to say that the board will “apply the approaches developed by the [Recovery Act Board] across government spending.”
Meanwhile, Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., Chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, introduced the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act, or DATA Act. His legislation would also create a permanent governmentwide accountability board, and would go further.
The DATA Act would require the new accountability board to establish common identifiers and consistent reporting standards for all federally collected data. It would also require all recipients of federal grants, contracts, and loans to report on their receipt and use of federal funds at least quarterly. Compliance would be a condition of receiving funds. And agencies could impose penalties of up to $250,000 on those that don’t report. (Does this mean OMB would need to amend the administrative requirements in Circular A-102 and 2 CFR 215?)
Finally, the legislation would repeal the Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act.