Sneak Preview: NSF Urged To Strengthen DATA Act Preparations

December 23, 2016 | By Jerry Ashworth | Post a Comment

xsass_bookshot(The following was excerpted from a recent article in the Single Audit Information Service.) The National Science Foundation (NSF), in response to recent audit recommendations from the NSF Office of Inspector General (OIG), has completed a risk management plan that tracks risks pertaining to the agency’s implementation of the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act (DATA Act) (Pub. L. 113-101). However, the agency has not effectively addressed other key OIG recommendations, such as developing a human resource plan for implementing the act.

The DATA Act requires federal agencies to begin reporting spending data in accordance with the act by May 2017 and to publicly post spending data in machine-readable formats by May 2018. Over the past several months, federal OIGs have regularly evaluated the progress each agency is making in implementing the requirements under the act. Although the NSF OIG noted that the NSF has made progress in preparing to implement the act, the agency still needs to take additional steps to “strengthen its project management practices to ensure compliance with all reporting requirements,” the OIG concluded.

The report detailed findings of the OIG’s inspection of the agency in August. The OIG explained NSF generally was on track to implement the DATA Act requirements on time, noting that the agency had:

  • submitted to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) initial and updated implementation plans with required elements;
  • developed a governance structure; engaged in testing NSF data to identify and correct data issues early in the process; and
  • reviewed DATA Act data elements during the data standardization process.

However, the OIG found weaknesses in NSF’s project management practices, such as developing project planning tools, progress metrics and documentation. The OIG said that NSF officials had planned to complete a detailed project management plan for DATA Act implementation by Sept. 30, but they had not started working the plan as of Aug. 31. “There was no central mechanism or document that tied all the different action items, work streams and pieces of the project together, and tracked them,” the OIG stated. “Consequently, NSF may be at risk for overlooking details, missing deadlines or target dates, and failing to implement the solutions necessary for full DATA Act compliance and reporting by May 2017.”

(The full version of this story has now been made available to all for a limited time on Thompson’s Grants Compliance Expert site.)

 

 

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