DATA Act a good thing, but implementation a struggle for some agencies
The full implementation of the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act is not the end of three years of work, but the start of what oversight and accountability proponents say is a new era for the federal government. Jason Malmstrom, assistant inspector general within the Justice Department’s audit division, said the law shows what standardized data should be and what it can do.
Lawmakers Introduce OPEN Government Data Act
Reps. Derek Kilmer (D-Wash.), Blake Farenthold (R-Texas) and Sens. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), and Ben Sasse (R-Neb,) jointly introduced legislation on Tuesday that would make government data more accessible to encourage new discoveries in the private sector. The OPEN Government Data Act would require that public data be accessible at Data.gov to ensure that individuals, organizations, and other government offices can access it.
// Read at Morning Consult //
Congressmen introduce OPEN Government Data Act with stakeholder endorsements
The OPEN Government Data Act gained the endorsement of two stakeholder groups at an event on Thursday. The Data Coalition, a group of industry advocates for the publication of government data, and the think tank Center for Data Innovation hosted the event to kick off the bill’s introduction.
Federal Data Should Be Open To Public, Lawmakers Say
Data that are collected by the federal government should be open and accessible to public by default, according to a group of lawmakers. A new bill to be presented to the senate would require federal agencies to have their data accessible to the public using a “modern, open and electronic format.” These data will be stored on the Data.gov website, according to an article released by Open Sources.
// Read at Lawyer Herald //
How is the government spending your money? Ohio’s figured it out
Ohio in 2014 launched a searchable database of the state’s expenditures, allowing residents to browse how their money was being spent by both the state and participating local governments. Government watchdogs view it as a model for something that could be applied across the nation.
Financial Data Standards Should Be…
This week, GovLoop’s very own Nicole Blake Johnson moderated a panel discussion at the Data Coalition’s Financial Data Summit in Washington, D.C.The event brought together data standards advocates and leaders from across the financial and regulatory community because of one common belief and purpose: that data standards make the world better. You may be thinking – why should I care? I don’t work in finance. But what you may not know is that financial regulations and standards affect almost every industry. And the changes that the field is working toward are not all that different from the challenges that any field pushing for modernization and improvement face.
// Read at GovLoop //
Streamlining data would improve financial regulation, panelists say
Streamlining financial data standards is essential to improving risk management and the regulation of financial institutions, panelists said at the Financial Data Summit on March 29. “If we don’t transform in the financial world the type of data that is collected and standardized, we will not be able to make significant progress in improving risk management and financial regulation,” said Allan Mendelowitz, president of ACTUS Financial Research Foundation and former director of the Federal Housing Finance Board.
The long war for data standards
A pending financial data standards bill could conceivably be law within a year, but its proponents are prepared to keep fighting the long fight. “It took us five years to do the Data Act,” said Hudson Hollister, executive director of the Data Coalition. “It’s been one year so far for the Financial Transparency Act.” Backers of the Financial Transparency Act, which would direct regulatory agencies to standardize the information they collect from the private sector, were thick on the ground at the Data Coalition’s second annual Financial Data Summit on March 2
// Read at FCW //
SEC raises the ante on data transparency
The U.S. Securities and Exchanges Commission is diving headfirst into new strategies to increase financial data transparency and accessibility. The goal, as outlined at the Data Coalition’s March 29 Financial Data Summit, is to become a proactive — rather than reactive — enforcement entity. In the past 18 months, the SEC has proposed or adopted 10 new rules on structured disclosure. Mary Jo White, who chairs the agency, has announced work on a revamped Office of Structured Disclosure website, as well as future implementation of inline XBRL viewers for the SEC.gov website. XBRL is shorthand for eXtensible Business Reporting Language — a freely available global standard for exchanging business information that has been embraced by the SEC.
// Read at FCW //
SEC Isn’t Waiting on a Congressional Mandate to Start Standardizing Financial Data
Seven years after the Great Recession, federal financial regulators appear all onboard for standardizing and digitizing the data they monitor from industry filings, even if allies in the transparency community argue that progress would be greater if Congress made the conversion effort mandatory. Officials from the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Treasury Department and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. told the nonprofit Data Coalition’s “Financial Data Summit” on Tuesday that they see “great progress” in efforts by some 20 agencies to streamline and ease access to financial trends to head off a repeat of the collapse of much of Wall Street in 2009.
Mike Starr: Bill seeks to ease financial data filing process
A proposed bill, the Financial Transparency Act, could help make financial data easier to file, search and understand. Mike Starr, vice president of governmental and regulatory affairs at financial software firm Workiva, joins Federal Drive with Tom Temin to provide insight.
Technological change is coming to financial regulation
Financial regulation, at least in the United States, is famously resistant to technological change. Bernie Madoff’s infamous sixteen-year fraud lasted as long as it did because multiple offices at the Securities and Exchange Commission were unaware of one another’s parallel inquiries into Madoff firms. The Madoff failure was a data failure. Different parts of the SEC use different electronic codes to identify the companies and firms they are supposed to track. Even within the agency, a particular entity cannot be matched to its subsidiaries and affiliates. Without a standard data field, there is no way to aggregate data on a complex company or firm – at least, not without lots of manual research.
// Read at The Hill //
Sessions Touts Availability of House Rules and Manual in XML Format; Increases transparency and access to Congressional data
Today, the House Rules Committee made available text of the House Rules and Manual in XML format on the Government Publishing Office (GPO) GitHub account, allowing for greater functionality, transparency and better usability. Additionally made available are the Constitution and other support pages that will allow greater functionality with regard to referencing, analysis and indexing.
California Needs Better Open Data on State Government Spending, Lawmakers Say
California lawmakers this week called for more transparency in state government, noting the federal government, local entities and other states have implemented open data initiatives that provide detailed accountability of how public money is spent. “I feel like government is just so opaque and so complicated,” Assemblymember Ling Ling Chang, R-Diamond Bar, told an audience at Open Data Day held Tuesday in Sacramento.
// Read at Techwire //
Top 3 Roadblocks to Data Transparency in California
In a presentation held March 1 during California Data Demo Day, which showcases state data transparency projects, California officials underscored a swath of technical and bureaucratic roadblocks still hindering digital efforts. The commentary pointed to a litany of struggles as state legislators and administrators recalled past pursuits with open data. The speakers surfaced recurring issues in funding, infrastructure and culture change while calling for continued vigilance in modernizing state services.
In California, civil servants lead the way in open data use — panel
California civil servants are leading the way in open data use, even as the state as a whole drags its feet, according to panelists at the Data Coalition’s California Data Day Tuesday. Robb Korinke, a principal for California public affairs firm GrassrootsLab, lamented that millennials can find a date on their smartphone — but may have trouble locating some basic facts about their cities.
// Read at Statescoop //
USDA preps for the Internet of Tractors
The Agriculture Department is looking for a better way to get data from the farm to the spreadsheet.In a request for information released Feb. 17, USDA asks industry for systems that could help bring simplify the process for farmers to send reports to the Farm Service Agency and the Risk Management Agency.
// Read at FCW //
The future’s bright for White House’s interactive budget, transparency
A White House interactive budget application — released this week with data from the president’s budget request for fiscal year 2017 — could unleash an unprecedented level of federalwide financial transparency, experts believe.
// Read at FedScop //
Open Data Loses House Battle, Heads to Senate With Obama Support
The fight for transparency on open financial data moved to the Senate Thursday after the House of Representatives passed the Small Company Disclosure Simplification Act, slamming the door on requirements that most U.S. companies file their financial statements in the XBRL format. The overall package bill, HR 1675, passed on Wednesday over the objections of open data supporters including 21 Republicans as well as most Democrats.
// Read at MeriTalk //
Data Coalition launches sister organization to promote #opendata
The South Capitol Hill-based Data Coalition (previously the Data Transparency Coalition), an open data trade association, announced the launch of sister organization last week. Meet Data Foundation. The newly-created Data Foundation “will illuminate the benefits of transforming government information into standardized, open data” through research. The Foundation’s website touts the organization as “the nation’s first industry-focused open data research organization.”
// Read at Technical.ly DC //
GAO frets about ambiguity in Data Act standards
The Digital Accountability and Transparency Act of 2014 requires the government to publish a detailed accounting of federal spending in uniform, machine-readable format on the USAspending.gov website, so the government is trying to get agencies on the same page when it comes to standards for that data.
// Read at FCW //
Data Coalition shortens name, launches research foundation
The Data Transparency Coalition, the nonprofit that lobbies for government information to be released in machine-readable format, is shortening its name to the Data Coalition and launching a research arm called the Data Foundation.
// Read at Fedscoop //
Data Coalition Rebrands, Opens New Research Center
The Data Transparency Coalition is changing its name to Data Coalition and opening a new research center as it gathers steam to push to standardize and publish all government information as open data. The coalition is also launching the Data Foundation (http://www.datafoundation.org/), the nation’s first industry-focused open data research organization. The goal: promoting the benefits of transforming government information into standardized, open data.
// Read at MeriTalk //
DATA TRADE GROUP: TRANSPARENCY ISN’T ENOUGH
The Data Transparency Coalition, a trade association whose members include LexisNexis and which advocates for federal data sharing, is rebranding to include data management as part of its mission. The group has pushed for the federal government to fully implement the 2014 Digital Accountability and Transparency Act, which directs federal agencies to make their spending more accessible and searchable to the public, among other open-data related policies. In advance of a day of meetings on Capitol Hill, the organization Wednesday announced its new name — the Data Coalition — and the creation of a new research foundation studying the impact of open data.
// Read at Nextgov //
It Will Soon Be Easier for Investors to Access Company Filings on Their Mobile Devices
The Securities and Exchange Commission plans to modernize its website to ease public access to company filings via mobile devices under a contract awarded to Accenture Federal Services, the company announced on Thursday.
FTC warns companies that ‘big data’ comes with the potential for big problems
The agency on Wednesday released a new report that advises companies on how to avoid hurting the most vulnerable as they push further into the booming “big data” economy. “Big data’s role is growing in nearly every area of business, affecting millions of consumers in concrete ways,” said FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez in a press release. “The potential benefits to consumers are significant, but businesses must ensure that their big data use does not lead to harmful exclusion or discrimination.”
10 Ways to Capitalize on Transparency’s Potential
Since President Obama signed the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act in May 2014, federal agencies have been hard at work implementing data standards and establishing a framework for increasing financial transparency by May 2017. The Office of Management and Budget and the Treasury Department are leading the effort.
SEC Pressured to Standardize Financial Reporting
Reps. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., and Mike Quigley, D-Ill., summoned industry and nonprofit transparency advocates to a panel last week to talk up their Financial Transparency Act (H.R. 2477). It would write into law the requirement for standardized reporting formats that are being considered voluntarily by agencies such as the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.
“Every American has the right to know”
In 2014, Obama signed a bipartisan measure mandating agencies use consistent data standards for spending, along the lines of what Devaney had advised. The Digital Accountability and Transparency Act was ushered through by Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., and Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va.
Major change proposed to how agencies track vendors
The Federal Acquisition Regulations Council is taking the first step to get the government away from what many see as a costly way to track and manage vendors. The FAR Council released a proposed rule Nov. 18 asking for input on how the government can stop using the proprietary standard or number for uniquely identifying entities receiving federal awards provided for decades by Dun & Bradstreet.
Sun could be setting on DUNS
The federal government is taking the first steps toward getting rid of a proprietary business identifier it uses in its procurement processes and that critics say weakens open-data initiatives. The sun might finally be setting for DUNS. The three agencies responsible for overseeing the Federal Acquisition Regulation that drives procurement officially proposed stepping away from DUNS numbers in a Nov. 18 notice in the Federal Register.
// Read at FCW //
User Feedback Key to USASpending.gov’s 2-year Facelift
With two years to go before key deadlines under the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act mandate a wave of new requirements for agencies submitting spending data to USASpending.gov, the Treasury Department is planning to revamp the website that tracks federal dollars.
// Read at Nextgov //
Agencies still searching for a way out of their own data silos
The Small Business Administration has made one small step forward in its efforts to better collect, organize and understand its own data. But SBA and other agencies still are opening up and tying together data within their own individual silos. Breaking down those walls and drawing connections between them will take more time, as agencies implement the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act (DATA Act).
Making DATA Act Real Means Working Nights and Weekends
Small Business Administration staff are working overtime to keep up progress on a pilot project to standardize spending data as required by the 2014 Digital Accountability and Transparency Act.
How the Data Act reveals what agencies don’t know
Shining a bright light into a dark space is bound to reveal some unknowns, but it could highlight opportunities as well. Tim Gribben, deputy chief financial officer at the Small Business Administration, shared some of the insights he has gained during the trek toward complying with the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act.
// Read at FCW //
Boehner’s tech legacy (seriously)
Outgoing House Speaker John Boehner might be better remembered for public bouts of weeping and a private fondness for red wine and cigarettes. But as the Ohioan prepares to leave office amid a political struggle over the direction of the Republican caucus, it’s a good time to reflect on a surprising aspect of Boehner’s legacy: promoting open data in government.
// Read at FCW //
What’s your Return on Complying with the DATA Act?
The scale of U.S. federal government spending is immense, overwhelming and abstract. At 20 percent of American Gross Domestic Product, our $3.8 trillion in annual federal spending is larger than the entire economies of all but two countries. This large budget spanning hundreds of agencies and departments presents a considerable challenge to open review of public spending.
// Read at NextGov //
California Lawmaker Pushes for State Chief Data Officer
California Sen. Richard Pan, D-Sacramento, and Assemblyman Phil Ting, D-San Francisco, among others, addressed the need to streamline the state’s open data publishing efforts at the California Data Demo Day. The morning event was hosted by the Data Transparency Coalition, a trade group that advocates for publishing government data in open, machine-readable formats.
What your agency is up against when implementing the DATA Act
The DATA Act is forcing agencies to standardize their financial information. The Office of Management and Budget will tell House Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittees on Information Technology and Government Operations about its plans to implement the DATA Act at a hearing on Wednesday. Hudson Hollister is the director of the Data Transparency Coalition. He tells Federal News Radio’s Emily Kopp about the changes agencies will soon have to deal with.
How digitized lawmaking could upend regulation writing
If laws and regulations were expressed as open data, rather than documents, “then government and society would be transformed,” according to Hudson Hollister, executive director of the Data Transparency Coalition. Hollister spoke as part of a panel that also included technological directors from the House of Representatives and developers from the General Services Administration’s 18F organization.
// Read at Federal Times //
Data Act implementation hung up on definitions
Looking for the “display gallery” of federal finances the 2014 Digital Accountability and Transparency Act could provide? The feds need to hammer out more definitions first.
Linking laws through open data
At a July 28 breakfast, the coalition and its partners championed the transformation of the legislative process with open data – and teased new “legislation about legislation” that could help speed that transformation. There are several open data avenues being pursued by legislative and regulatory bodies worldwide, including UN favorite Akoma Ntoso and U.S. Legislative Markup, the schema for producing the U.S. Code in Extensible Markup Language (XML).
OMB starts DATA Act implementation in high gear
Forr all of the Obama administration’s reluctance and push-back against the Data Transparency Accountability Act or DATA Act as it was going through Congress, give them credit for meeting the first major statutory deadline of the law on May 7. OMB also issued the first DATA Act guidance, which calls for agencies to designate a senior accountable official to lead the law’s implementation.
Better data, Better decisions, Better government
A year ago, Congress passed the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act of 2014, or the DATA Act. Since then, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the Department of the Treasury (Treasury) have engaged with the communities that create and use this data and taken important first steps towards creating a more data driven government, and making federal data more transparent and available to the American people. Today marks the beginning of the next phase of implementation of the DATA Act.
Why is the SEC still so low-tech?
Like many U.S. regulators, the SEC hasn’t kept pace with technological evolution. As a result, the firms it’s charged with overseeing are getting away with shady practices, investors are being denied easy access to key information, and, our economy is being put at risk.
// Read at CNBC //
Big Government Is Getting In The Way Of Big Data
When the government wants to know how many people are unemployed, it calls people and asks them whether they’re working. When it wants to know how quickly prices are rising, it sends researchers to stores to check price tags. And when it wants to know how much consumers are spending, it mails forms to thousands of retailers asking about their sales.
// Read at FiveThirtyEight //
Smaller companies exempt from using open-data format for financial reporting under House bill
Defeat of job bill in House reveals open data failures at SEC
But the bill’s defeat tells only part of the story. The Hurt provision, known as the Small Company Disclosure Simplification Act, not only threatened the future ability of the SEC to eliminate financial fraud and protect investors but also underscores the agency’s failure to manage the deployment of new data standards that are critical to accurate financial reporting and oversight.
// Read at FedScoop //
SEC’s Year-End XBRL Release Advances the Ball on Data Over Documents
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s year-end release of ‘structured data sets’ of XBRL information appears aimed at improving the access to, and usefulness of, this electronically tagged data.
Open data builds on the hill as Senate offers XML info
The U.S. Senate will be joining the open data movement when it said it would make bills and other legislative information available for bulk XML download. In making its announcement at the Legislative Branch Bulk Data Task Force meeting, the Senate said it will release machine-readable summary and bill information from the 113th Congress, which just gaveled out, and legislation from the upcoming 114th.
SEC moves to ease access to financial statement data
At the end of 2014, the Securities and Exchange Commission took a big step toward making corporate financial data more open, announcing it would repackage the financial statement data it had been gathering from publicly traded companies and releasing them in quarterly datasets.
// Read at FCW //
How one company is trying to tackle Big Data’s big problem
Big data analysis is great if your information is in formats that are easy for computers to read, such as spreadsheets with numbers, or responses on a scale from one to five. But a lot of information isn’t organized like that. Instead, it’s in presentations, memos, reports, comments or just plain e-mail. Analysis of that kind of information — often called “unstructured” or “dark” data — is really tough to do by computer, and companies including Intel, SAP and HP are looking for a more reliable way to do it. Another firm, uReveal, thinks that it’s cracked the code. Charles “Bucky” Clarkson, uReveal’s chairman and CEO, said that software such as his makes it easier to to parse all those government reports and organize the data so that analysts can get more out of it, and more quickly. He also claims that the software is so simple to use that (gasp!) even liberal arts majors can use it.
// Read at Washington Post //
The Other Darrell Issa
But when he isn’t chastising the executive branch and making headlines, another Issa emerges, a forceful advocate for government transparency, capable of working with Democrats and negotiating with the administration to pass open government legislation and whistleblower protections. In May, President Barack Obama signed the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act, a law that will expose federal spending in an online database, allowing Americans to know, for the first time, exactly how the federal government spends its money.
Spending transparency gets boost with passage of DATA Act, awaits President’s signature
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.
Congress Passes DATA Act
The House has unanimously passed the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act, also known as the DATA Act, on Monday, following Senate passage earlier this month and sending the legislation to President Obama’s desk for his signature.
// Read at Accounting Today //
Congress to Feds: You’re on the Hook for Spending Transparency
Passing the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act was one thing. Implementing it will be a much bigger challenge. The success of the open government measure Congress passed on Monday, which the president has pledged to sign, depends on ensuring the executive branch implements the law’s mandates on schedule, lawmakers said on Tuesday.
// Read at NextGov //
Let’s See What DATA Can Do
Change will not come instantly, and the legislation is not self-executing, but groups like the Data Transparency Coalition, a prime mover behind the legislation, appear poised to insist on full execution of the law. Implementation should not have the cost that the Congressional Budget Office estimated for it, and if it does, the billions saved thanks to availability of information to the public should justify the costs.
// Read at Cato Institute //