Could The DATA Act’s Flame Flicker Again?

May 17, 2013 | By Jerry Ashworth | Post a Comment

1281538_candleOh, the DATA Act. Where have you been for so long? You made big news about a year ago when you passed the House and then, well, you languished. You lost your energy, your fire, and you eventually got shoved to the back recesses of our minds, only to be replaced by a shiny, new flavor of the month – the OMB proposed grants reform guidance.

Alas, we hear from our friends at the National Association of State Auditors, Comptrollers and Treasurers that there is a working draft of a new DATA Act. The draft bill is expected to be introduced in committee sometime next week. Among the key provisions in the draft is the inclusion of a three-year pilot program to evaluate consolidated recipient reporting and its ability to increase financial transparency and reduce awardee burden. The Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board already has taken steps toward this goal by launching the Grant Reporting Information Project (GRIP). Speaking of the Recovery Board, the new DATA Act would extend the work of the board, rather than replacing it with the Federal Accountability Spending and Transparency Commission, as called for in the original bill.

While the original DATA Act would have required recipients of federal awards to report separately on expenditure of funds to the FAST Commission, the draft bill would not create any new reporting requirements for recipients. In the new version, the Department of the Treasury would establish the data standards and make financial spending data available on, rather than making the FAST Commission responsible for these tasks.

There are several other provisions from the original version that are not included in the draft version, including provisions on the Paperwork Reduction Act, GAO Improvement Act, amendments to the Inspector General Act of 1978 and the IG Reform Act of 2008, and conference spending reform. Instead the new version would focus on financial transparency and will not contain additional legislation.

Perhaps we’re realizing that the original version was a bit overreaching, which may have been why its glow faded. Maybe with the changes, the new version, once introduced, will be more to everyone’s liking and will be a better fit to coincide with potential changes coming in OMB’s proposed guidance.

Let us know what you thought about the original bill and what should be included or deleted in the new version.


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