I’ll Take Door Number 3

December 12, 2012 | By Jerry Ashworth | Post a Comment

Although I’m showing my age by saying this, one of my favorite guilty pleasures as a child was watching the game show “Let’s Make a Deal!” In case you’ve never seen it, here a clip. The show entails the host venturing out into the audience. Audience members are dressed up in outlandish costumes hoping to be selected for a deal of cash or “what’s behind the curtain/door/box” on stage. Sometimes they’ll select the cash, sometimes they’ll select the door. Who knows what’s behind it? It could be a BRAND NEW CAR, or then again, it could reveal a live goat. Sure it was hokey, but for a 10-year-old in the mid-1970s, it made for quality television.

You probably wonder how this relates to grants. Well, Congress has provided us with three Digital Accountability and Transparency Act bills —  the original DATA Act (H.R. 2146) launched in the House; a companion Senate legislation (S. 1222); and now S. 3600, which was proposed this fall. The most recent version was introduced by Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) after the previous version passed the House but died in the Senate.

As in previous versions, S. 3600 would set up a the Federal Accountability Spending and Transparency Board (FAST Board), which would replace the President’s Government Accountability and Transparency Board, expand the Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act and require other key changes (a good wrap-up of the legislation is available here).

This third bill has received a stamp of approval from the university sector. The Council on Governmental Relations, along with the Association of American Universities and the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities recently sent a jointly-signed letter to Sen. Warner expressing support for S.3600. The organizations called the legislation “a more streamlined approach” to improving the transparency of financial information that grantees report to the federal government. It also praised provisions in the bill that enhance USASpending.gov; call on the Treasury Department to establish governmentwide financial data standards; and require the federal government to make more transparent the financial data it already collect from federal awardees.

The organizations said the bill was “sound legislation” and encouraged the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee to approve it. Perhaps, option number 3 may be the best one to choose, and we didn’t have to dress up in a funny costume to get it.

Do you favor S. 3600 or do you have concerns with this bill? Let us know.


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