Conformance with the newly-enacted Digital Accountability and Transparency Act will require heavy lifting on the part of government, said Federal Chief Information Officer Steven VanRoekel. "As far as systems today and how we can get there, they don't necessarily map in the way that the act described," said VanRoekel.
"There are many, many ways to fudge the work that OMB and Treasury now have to do," said Hudson Hollister of the Data Transparency Coalition.
Bipartisan legislation designed to bring greater transparency, consistency and accuracy into federal government spending through the use of strong, uniform open data standards is headed to President Obama for his signature.
The Digital Accountability and Transparency Act took another step toward enactment into law after the Senate passed the bill unanimously Thursday. After it passed, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee released a statement in support of the Senate version, calling it a compromise supported by leaders from both parties in both chambers.
A coalition of advocacy groups criticized the Obama administration for revisions it proposed to the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act in a Feb. 11 letter to the president.
Even without the financial oversight responsibilities the Treasury Department would receive under the House-approved version of the DATA Act (H.R. 2061), the department intends to standardize the subset of agency financial reporting it already controls, said a Treasury Department official.
The House passed Nov. 19 the DATA Act (H.R. 2061), which requires federal agencies and departments to release more complete and higher-quality spending data. The bill also shifts oversight of federal spending transparency dashboard USASpending.gov from the Office of Management and Budget to the Treasury Department.
Federal spending data systems have improved in recent years but still come up short in their efforts to fully inform the public on government spending, says a June 6 brief from the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
House Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) will try again this year to pass into law a bill that would require federal agencies and companies or organizations receiving federal dollars to report back each quarter financial data using standardized data elements.
"One looks like a democracy and the other is national security state, where claims of national security usually trump openness and accountability," Angela Canterbury, director of public policy for the Project on Government Oversight, told the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform March 13.