Improving Federal Grantmaking Transparency

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Yesterday evening, the House passed version of S. 303, which would significantly increase federal grant transparency if enacted. The legislation was amended to incorporate H.R. 2392, the Issa-Towns “Government Information Transparency Act.”

Prior to the amendment, S. 303, a.k.a. the Federal Financial Assistance Management Improvement Act of 2009, required OMB to standardize the federal grant application process and codified Grants.gov as the central clearinghouse for information on federal grants.

The Issa-Towns amendment adds several important levels of detail:

  • It requires OMB to adopt a single interactive data standard for all grant applications and reports;
  • It requires federal agencies to require the use of the data standard by grant applicants; and
  • It requires Grants.gov to make everything public and searchable.

Ultimately, this has implications for all federal reporting on business and financial information.

The House and Senate must still iron out their differences before the legislation can be sent to the president. This is a smart step in the right direction. Representatives Towns, Issa, and the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform should be commended.

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