The Quest for Higher Quality Data

March 2, 2011 | By Jerry Ashworth | Post a Comment

If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing correctly! Dot the Is, cross the Ts and get the numbers right! This seems to be the growing mantra in the federal government concerning reporting on federal awards.

Sandra Swab, data manager and senior policy analyst for the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board, told me in an interview last Friday that the board was working on tools to help improve Recovery Act data quality. In traditional grants, agency officials and grantees can look at data such as the “award ID” or “DUNS number” and both agree that a number may be transposed. However, electronic systems do not recognize such typos. “You have to be more cognizant that when you enter that data that you provide it in an accurate way,” she said. Transparency “puts more onus on the agencies and recipients that they get the data right.”

Swab’s comments come on the heels of a recent announcement from Karen Lee of the Office of Management and Budget Office of Federal Financial Management, who said the OMB expects to issue guidance soon to help federal agencies and award recipients report accurate data under the Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act, adding that “data quality is an important, if not critical, part of [the FFATA] effort.”

The next two issues of the Federal Grants Management Handbook will include more comments from our one-on-one interview with Swab about the Recovery Board. Do you have any ideas to help improve data quality in federal grant reporting? Feel free to offer your opinions.

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