Federal Data Transparency: Opportunities Remain to Incorporate Recovery Act Lessons Learned Page: 3 of 16
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Chairman Warner, Ranking Member Ayotte, and Members of the Task
Thank you for the opportunity to discuss the findings from our recent
report on federal efforts to increase the transparency of information
detailing federal awards and expenditures.1 The federal government
awards more than $1 trillion annually through contracts, grants, and
loans. Transparency-shedding light on the amount of spending, what it
is spent on, who receives the funds, and what are the results of that
spending-is essential to improving government accountability and
fostering civic engagement. Within the last decade, Congress and the
administration have taken several steps to improve the transparency of
federal spending data, including passing two statutes intended to expand
public access to information on federal programs. The Federal Funding
Accountability and Transparency Act of 2006 (FFATA)2 and the American
Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Recovery Act)3 have allowed
the public to access information on spending, recipients, and uses of
funds. Information on grant and contract awards is available on
www. USAspending.gov, and information on Recovery Act awards and
spending is available on www.Recovery.gov. The data's availability has
also provided opportunities for increased oversight to prevent and detect
fraud, waste, and abuse of federal funds, and to improve the efficiency
and effectiveness of federal spending.
While the transparency of federal spending data has increased, both the
administration and Members of Congress have suggested the need for
more transparency. For example, USAspending.gov only provides data
on funds awarded and does not include information on disbursements. In
terms of data collection, federal agencies and recipients report to various
systems, sometimes with the same information and, as a result, direct
unnecessary time and resources to administrative activities. In addition,
the lack of consistent data structures prevents easy aggregation of data
at the government-wide level, hampering the ability to link existing
1GAO, Federal Data Transparency: Opportunities Remain to Incorporate Lessons
Learned as Availability of Spending Data Increases, GAO-13-758 (Washington, D.C.:
Sept. 12, 2013).
2Pub. L. No. 109-282, 120 Stat. 1186 (2006), as amended by Pub. L. No. 110-252,
6202(a), 122 Stat. 2323, 2387 (2008) (codified at 31 U.S.C. 6101 note).
3Pub. L. No. 111-5, 1512, 1526, 123 Stat. 115, 287-288, 293-294 (2009).
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United States. Government Accountability Office. Federal Data Transparency: Opportunities Remain to Incorporate Recovery Act Lessons Learned, text, September 18, 2013; Washington D.C.. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc301390/m1/3/: accessed July 19, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.