The House of Representatives today approved bipartisan legislation to standardize federal spending data and ensure it is made available online so Americans can access information about how their tax dollars are being spent. The legislation will allow taxpayers and lawmakers to better track waste, fraud and abuse across all federal agencies. Today's House passage of the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act (DATA), which follows unanimous Senate passage earlier this month, means the legislation now goes to the President to be signed into law.
The legislation would require federal agencies to account for every dollar they spend on a single website, in an easy-to-read format. Currently, federal spending data is not always readily available, and if it is, it may be in a format that is not very useful. The bipartisan DATA Act was cosponsored in the Senate by Sens. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) and Rob Portman (R-OH), and the House companion was sponsored by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) and Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD). Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee Chairman Tom Carper (D-DE) and Ranking Member Tom Coburn (R-OK) also helped broker the bipartisan agreement.
The DATA Act has been hailed by Government Accountability Office Comptroller General Gene Dodaro as "the single biggest thing" Congress could do to identify wasteful federal spending, and the DATA Act has been called the most significant open-government initiative since the Freedom of Information Act of 1966.
"In the digital age, we should be able to search online to see how every grant, contract and disbursement is spent in a more connected and transparent way through the federal government" Sen. Warner said. "Independent watchdogs and transparency advocates have endorsed the DATA Act's move toward greater transparency and open data. Our taxpayers deserve to see clear, accessible information about government spending, and this accountability will highlight and help us eliminate waste and fraud."
"During a time of record $17 trillion debt, our bipartisan bill will help identify and eliminate waste by better tracking federal spending," Sen. Portman said. "I'm pleased that our bill to empower taxpayers to see how their money is spent and improve federal financial transparency has unanimously passed both chambers of Congress and is headed to the President's desk for signature."
"Today's passage of the DATA Act is a victory for taxpayers," said Chairman Issa. "Addressing rampant waste and fraud in government starts with making publicly accessible, structured information available online for everyone--taxpayers and watchdogs alike. I applaud my House colleagues' bipartisan action today to reform and improve spending transparency. The DATA Act is a win for good government, moving the federal bureaucracy into the digital age and setting the stage for real accountability."
"I am pleased to support this landmark bill that will make fundamental changes to the way the government shares information about its spending. By making government spending more transparent, we will reduce wasteful spending and make the government more effective and efficient" Ranking Member Cummings said.
"Government works best when it's transparent and accessible to everyone. That's why the DATA Act will be such a monumental law," Sen. Carper said. "By increasing the availability, accuracy, and usefulness of federal spending information, we enhance government transparency, improve accountability, and reduce wasteful government spending. This legislation also takes an important step towards the establishment of government-wide financial data standards, which will significantly improve the ability of policymakers and the public to analyze how federal tax dollars are being spent. I'd like to thank Dr. Coburn and Senators Warner and Portman for their tireless work and leadership on this effort. I would also like to thank my colleagues in the House, especially Chairman Issa and Ranking Member Cummings, for their hard work and attention to the issue. I look forward to its being signed into law by President Obama."
"The passage of this bill is important precisely because the bureaucrats in Washington don't want it and have fought it every step of the way. In many cases, the federal government doesn't even know what they're doing with their resources and now they will have to know in order to comply with this law. I hope President Obama will sign this bill into law as soon as possible and force the federal government to provide a full and transparent accounting of their use of taxpayer funds," Dr. Coburn said.