Comptroller General Disappointed with DATA Act Compliance

August 14, 2018 | By Jerry Ashworth | Post a Comment

300x300.AICPAWhen the U.S. Comptroller General expresses concern about federal compliance with laws affecting grant programs, that can’t be a good sign. Speaking this week to the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants’ 2018 Accounting and Auditing Update Conference, Comptroller General Gene Dodaro said that after looking at recent federal agency reports submitted by agency Offices of Inspector General (OIG) under the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act (DATA Act) (Pub. L. 113-101), he was “quite frankly, disappointed.”

The DATA Act requires OIGs to issue reports on their assessments of the quality of the agencies’ spending data submissions and compliance with the DATA Act. The scope of all OIG reviews covered their agencies’ second quarter fiscal year 2017 submissions. According to the Government Accountability Office, which compiles a report based on these OIG findings, the files that the OIGs used to select and review sample transactions varied based on data availability. Because of these variations, the overall error rates reported by the OIGs are not fully comparable and a government-wide error rate cannot be projected.

However, what can be determined is that only about half of the agencies fully met Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and Department of the Treasury requirements for the implementation and use of data standards for financial reporting. The OIGs also reported that most agencies’ first data submissions were not complete, timely, accurate or of quality. For example, OIGs reported deficiencies related to agencies’ lack of effective procedures or controls and systems issues. Worse yet, Dodaro said that hardly 1 percent of the agencies were fully compliant with the underlying data for federal award reporting.

Although Dodaro praised OMB and Treasury for issuing the data standards under the DATA Act on time, he expressed frustration that more than $80 billion in funding was not reported accurately. “There’s a lot of room for improvement in this area,” he said, pointing out that there were particularly a lot of inconsistencies with “place of performance,” with some agencies reporting where the equipment was manufactured, while others reported where the equipment was used.

Hopefully, reports for future quarters will be more promising.

Let us know your reaction to these findings. We’d love to hear from you.

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