DATA Act Reporting Begins; What Will Tomorrow Hold?

May 9, 2017 | By Jerry Ashworth | Post a Comment

The coundigital-numbers-1193081tdown clock has reached zero for federal agencies to comply with the requirements under the DATA Act. Federal agencies now must provide their financial reports in a searchable, machine-readable format in compliance with federal data standards under the Act. And as agency officials have noted in recent forums we’ve attended, this isn’t the finish line, but rather, it’s the starting line.

We’ve been following the DATA Act (Pub. L. 113-101) since it was passed by Congress back in 2014. The act requires the development of governmentwide financial data standards to make it easier to compare spending across federal agencies and awards. It also calls for improved oversight and monitoring of posted federal spending data to ensure appropriate expenditure of federal funds and reduce instances of improper payments and fraud, waste and abuse.

We will be especially interested in the first Office of Management and Budget report to Congress in August detailing the results of Section 5 pilot, and in November when the Government Accountability Office must issue a report assessing the completeness, timeliness, accuracy and quality of all agencies’ spending data, plus their implementation and use of data standards. GAO will follow up with additional reports in 2019 and 2021.

For those that haven’t been following the ins and outs of the DATA Act, Hudson Hollister of the Data Coaltion issued a blog post today that provided a great synopsis of where we’ve come so far. Near the end of the blog, he promotes a new report issued by the Data Foundation and Deloitte, called DATA Act 2022, which describes the six main challenges to the DATA Act’s success.

“The most serious is that DATA Act reporting is running alongside old-fashioned, non-standardized reporting,” Hollister notes in the blog post. “Agencies still have to report the same information using documents and non-standardized legacy databases like the Federal Procurement Data System, even as they comply with the new DATA Act mandate. As long as that happens, there’s a danger that agencies will see the legacy databases as the main system, and the DATA Act as an add-on.”

“Congress needs to kick the stool out from under this duplication, and direct the government to make the DATA Act the main, and eventually the only, way that spending is reported,” Hollister adds.

We agree. So much work has been done to get us to this point and it’s time to keep the momentum going forward.

Let us know how you feel about the DATA Act and what benefits you see coming from standardized financial reporting.


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