On Monday, the House of Representatives unanimously passed the DATA Act, following unanimous approval three weeks ago by the Senate. On Tuesday, the White House announced that President Obama will sign it.
The DATA Act’s enactment will revolutionize federal spending. The federal government’s antiquated document-based reporting apparatus will be transformed into an efficient flow of standardized, open data. Open spending data will become a public resource for citizens, watchdogs, and the tech industry.
Our nation leads the world in technological innovation. We will finally be able to apply our technical ingenuity to the inefficiencies of the federal government. The Data Transparency Coalition’s members have demonstrated their ability to republish, analyze, and automate private-sector financial data. Now their solutions can transform the public sector too.
Open federal spending data will bring democratic accountability by expanding access to vital information about our government’s actions and priorities. Open federal spending data will allow agencies and Congressional appropriators to deploy electronic management tools. Open federal spending data will automate compliance for grantees and contractors.
The DATA Act’s chief champion in the House, Rep. Darrell Issa, estimates that one-third of the federal deficit is waste and fraud. The DATA Act will enable our government to deploy data analytics to illuminate and eliminate waste and fraud.
The federal government is already constitutionally obliged to report its expenditures. Under the DATA Act, technology will make sense of them.
Tuesday’s Data Transparency Summit brought together all stakeholders to start transforming the largest, most complex organization in human history. Our Coalition will continue to light the way forward for the federal government. We will encourage the Treasury Department and the White House OMB to follow the intent of the DATA Act by adopting and implementing robust, nonproprietary, government-wide data standards.
President Obama’s May 2013 Open Data Policy provides crucial context for the DATA Act’s implementation by defining the essential characteristics of open data and by bringing together a community of practice that is now ready to focus its energies on federal spending data. The DATA Act builds on the President’s earlier work, too: the new law amends and amplifies the Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act of 2006, a collaboration between Sens. Tom Coburn and Barack Obama.
We applaud the President’s decision to sign the DATA Act. For both government transparency and the growing open data tech industry, the DATA Act will be President Obama’s enduring legacy.