May 21, 2013 – Congressional leaders are reenergizing the debate on government data standards and federal fiscal transparency in a proposal that may get its first look this week.
The Digital Accountability and Transparency Act (DATA) of 2013 has been introduced in the House by Reps. Elijah Cummings (D-Maryland) and Darrell Issa (R-California), and in the Senate by Sens. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Mark Warner (D-Virginia), who co-sponsored a previous effort. The new DATA Act covers six principle areas, including: an online federal fund and grant tracking tool; maintained support of a Recovery Operations Center that focuses on fraud and waste; review of possibilities with regard to reducing compliance requirements based on new standards; enabling federal agencies to review financial data ahead of potential improper payments; a two-year cycle of financial data quality reviews.
“The DATA Act will standardize and open federal spending data so that those inside and outside of government can actually use spending data to save taxpayer dollars by cutting waste, fighting fraud, and spending smarter,” Rep. Issa said in a release accompanying the bi-partisan bills.
The House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Government Reform is scheduled to hear more on the new DATA Act in a meeting Wednesday. The committee and tech companies hosted a demonstration on transparency and standards last week.
A previous version of the DATA Act was approved unanimously last year by the House of Representatives, though support at that time wavered over concerns it would add more regulation but not enough auditory control. The federal government has taken other steps on data transparency and security this year in the form of an executive order by President Obama and an open data collaboration effort.
Hudson Hollister, executive director at DTC, a tech industry advocacy organization that held its own DATA Act demonstration last year including insight from members Teradata and Microsoft, said the introduction of the mirror proposals should give data and transparency leaders “reasons to celebrate.”
"For the first time, we have a nearly-identical proposal embraced by both parties and both houses of Congress to open federal spending data through standardization and publication,” said Hollister.
(Editor's note: This story was updated at 3:18 p.m. EST to reflect the posting of the committee hearing.)
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