The CARES Act established the Pandemic Response Accountability Committee (PRAC), along with several other oversight mechanisms. This body has an $80 million budget to help it oversee $2.4 trillion in economic relief to individuals, businesses, and health care providers in response to the coronavirus pandemic. The PRAC was modeled after the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board, formed to oversee the funds associated with the 2008 financial crisis. Fortunately, the government’s ability to gather and publish spending data has greatly improved as a result of the 2008 crisis, due to the passage and implementation of laws like the DATA Act, the Evidence Act, and the GREAT Act. The Data Coalition sent the following letter, urging the PRAC to continue this momentum, and leverage existing data standards and practices to their, and society’s, advantage.
Dear Mr. Horowitz,
The Data Coalition, America’s premier voice on data policy, works with Congress and the Executive Branch to ensure responsible data policies for data to be open and accessible, in order to promote transparency and public trust. Open and transparent information about how agencies allocate resources is a pillar that supports accountable government, which in turn promotes public trust in our institutions.
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act created vital transparency and reporting requirements that will mean intense coordination across the federal enterprise in order to manage the high volume of information required for effective oversight. The Data Coalition members strongly urge the Pandemic Response Accountability Committee to use existing infrastructure and data analysis standards in order to quickly establish meaningful transparency for emergency spending associated with the country’s response to the pandemic.
An important part of this process will be to use existing federal data standards for the data fields agencies expect to collect, analyze, and publish in support of the PRAC’s statutory goals. This should include integrating agency reporting requirements required by the Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act of 2006, the Digital Accountability and Transparency (DATA) Act of 2014, and the recently enacted Grant Reporting Efficiency and Agreements Transparency (GREAT) Act.
We also encourage the PRAC to, in partnership with agencies, invest in federal transparency platforms and data systems to meet the requirements in the CARES Act. As state governments and congressional leaders have also recommended, the PRAC should follow the past model of the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board, which established a digital recipient reporting system that used standardized data to deliver accountability and transparency without imposing an undue burden on recipients of federal funding.
By leveraging data resources thoughtfully and appropriately and building on existing transparency efforts, the PRAC will be able to improve oversight and the impact of the recovery funds. This serves the PRAC’s mission, bolsters transparency efforts already underway, and strengthens the ability of the American people to hold their government accountable.
Thank you for your consideration.
Nicholas R. Hart, PhD
CEO, Data Coalition