Press Release

Senate Committee Finds Standardizing Trillions of Dollars of Government Spending Data is “Easier Said Than Done”


Washington, D.C.The Data Coalition is pleased to see the Senate Homeland and Governmental Affairs Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, led by original DATA Act sponsors Chairman Rob Portman (OH-R) and Ranking Member Tom Carper (DE-D), issue their oversight report: “Federal Agency Compliance with the DATA Act.

“The report brings to light the inherent complexities of standardizing agencies’ legacy financial management processes,” said Hudson Hollister, Executive Director of the Data Coalition. “Treasury and OMB have centralized 98 agency account and spending data sets, totaling trillions of dollars annually. This is no easy undertaking. We urge the Committee to continue exploring legislative actions to help the Treasury Department enforce data quality requirements and ultimately collect more accurate information from agencies.”

The Data Coalition urges Congress to continue conducting regular oversight to proactively address known data quality issues and enable timely improvements. Our Coalition looks forward to working with the Subcommittee on future reform efforts.

About the report:

  • The Committee’s report focuses on the Inspectors’ General audits for the second quarter of 2017, the first reporting period, and over the past year.
  • Over the past year, the data quality reported by the agencies, as well as the ability to extract bulk information from the USAspending.gov system for outside analysis, has been steadily improving.
  • The report echoes yesterday’s Government Accountability Office (GAO) audit that found that a large proportion of the information data quality issues are a symptom of legacy award-side reporting systems, such as the Federal Procurement Data System, which have known data quality issues. Congress should work with Treasury and OMB to assess award reporting systems, data quality, and internal controls, to explore what efficiencies can be gained by directly consolidating all reporting systems directly under Treasury’s new reporting architecture.

Key statement from the Committee report:

The DATA Act requires agencies to gather and link budget data, award data, and financial data to effectively track federal spending through this complex spending process. The resulting information is made publically available on USAspending.gov for review by taxpayers and Congress. This, however, is easier said than done. Government-wide and agency financial systems were developed separately over time and are inconsistent in defining and collect data. These inconsistencies complicate the crucial steps of linking agency data with data stored in government-wide systems to create a complete picture of federal spending.

Read the full report here.

About the Data Coalition: The Data Coalition is the world’s first, and only, open data trade association. We empower data companies to make our government more efficient and transparent through the standardization and publication of its information. Open data enhances accountability, improves government management, reduces compliance costs, and stimulates innovation. Our members represent a cross-section of the technology industry and implementers, employ over two hundred thousand Americans, and have a combined market capitalization exceeding $1.5 trillion. For more information, visit datacoalition.org.


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