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Posted by on May 21, 2013

The DATA Act is Reintroduced

Congress may be on the verge of approving The Digital Accountability and Transparency (DATA) Act.  Last week, Congressman Darrell Issa, chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, announced plans to reintroduce the legislation following behind the scenes bipartisan negotiations with Senator Mark Warner, the Senate sponsor of the DATA Act. Tomorrow, May 22nd, Congressman Issa’s Committee is scheduled to markup the bill and will likely adopt the legislation with minimal changes.

The DATA Act is designed to increase transparency and accountability of federal grants, contracts, and spending. The primary purpose of the legislation is to publish all federal spending on the Internet with the intent of reducing waste, fraud, and abuse. The DATA Act would standardize reporting requirements which would expand the ability for government officials and the public to easily search and examine spending from one Internet location.

During the 112th Congress (2011-2013), Congressman Issa and Senator Warner introduced the DATA Act in their respective chambers. After the House of Representatives approved the bill in April 2012, a number of professional organizations expressed concern the legislation would increase the reporting and financial burdens of grant recipients.  To address these concerns, Senator Warner introduced a modified version of the DATA Act, S. 3600, in September 2012 that was designed to shift the responsibility of reporting financial award information to awarding agencies. Many of the associations opposed to the House version expressed support for the Senate bill. The 112th Congress adjourned before the Senate could consider the measure.

The latest version of Congressman Issa’s DATA Act reuses most of the language and adopts many of the provisions from S. 3600. Federal agencies would be required to publish award information on USASpending.gov and to use a standard, governmentwide award identification process.  Additionally, the legislation would expand the Recovery Board’s authority to conduct a three year pilot program to improve the accuracy of federal financial data.

With Congressman Issa and Senator Warner appearing to have reconciled the differences between the two companion bills, the chances that Congress will approve the DATA Act have significantly improved.

UPDATE – The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee approved the DATA Act on May 22nd.

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