House Oversight Subcommittee Takes (Another) Look at Federal Spending Transparency

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A House Oversight subcommittee hearing tomorrow will evaluate how federal agencies are using financial management IT systems to track federal spending.

Our Executive Director, Ellen Miller, testified on this issue before this subcommittee as well as before the full House Oversight and Government Reform Committee earlier this year. These two previous hearings found that although technology is available to track federal spending and measure program performance, government agencies still largely rely on manual processes which do not produce accurate information in a timely manner.

According to our evaluation of the accuracy and reliability of federal spending reporting on USASpending.gov, the data suffers from severe quality problems. Over $1.3 trillion in federal reporting data from 2009 is inaccurate, and just 35 percent of the overall spending data can be considered accurate. In addition, over 60 percent of obligations were reported late for the years examined, and there were numerous instances where spending was either not reported or reported incorrectly.

The Digital Accountability and Transparency Act, or DATA Act, introduced by Rep. Issa (R-CA) in June seeks to reform the way federal spending is reported by establishing an independent entity to track all federal spending on one comprehensive website and mandating the use of consistent government-wide data standards. Sen. Warner (D-VA) introduced companion legislation in the Senate.

The White House also addressed this issue in June, issuing an Executive Order establishing the 11-member Government Accountability and Transparency Board to increase the transparency of Federal spending and promote efforts to identify and reduce fraud, waste, and abuse in Federal programs.

Tomorrow’s hearing is scheduled for 1:30pm in Rayburn House Office Building room 2247. It will also be broadcast live at oversight.house.gov.

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