Date: May 1, 2014
Congress Passes S. 994
The Digital Accountability and Transparency Act of 2014
On April 28, 2014, the House passed S.994, the “Digital Accountability and Transparency Act of 2014, or the DATA Act” by voice vote. The bill passed the Senate on April 10, 2014 by unanimous consent. The bill changes how Federal spending data is reported, instructs OMB to simplify the reporting requirements that apply to contractors, and changes when agencies report debt for administrative offset. The bill now goes to the President for his signature.
Following are provisions of interest to SSA:
Section 3 – Amendments to the Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act of 2006
- Would require the Secretary of the Treasury (Secretary) to publish additional data on Federal spending (at least quarterly) on USAspending.gov or a successor site. This would include:
- The amount of budget authority appropriated and obligated, unobligated balances, and any other budgetary resource for each appropriations account (both expired and unexpired);
- The amount obligated and outlays by program activity and object class for each account; and,
- The amount obligated and outlays by object class for each program activity.
- This provision would be effective no later than 3 years from enactment.
- Would require the Secretary to ensure that the data published on USAspending.gov are in machine-readable and open formats, available to download in bulk, and available for automated processing.
- Would require the Secretary and the Director of the Office of Management and Budget (Director) to establish standards for the reporting of financial and payment data by Federal agencies and entities expending Federal funds. They would be required to issue these standards within 1 year of enactment.
- Would require the Director to simplify and consolidate the reporting requirements that apply to recipients of Federal awards. This would in part require the Director to establish a pilot project to develop recommendations for standardizing reporting elements across the Federal government, eliminating duplicative financial reporting, and reducing compliance costs for recipients of Federal awards. This pilot would be established within 1 year of enactment and would conclude 2 years after establishment. The Director would report to Congress within 90 days after the pilot concludes and issue the resulting guidance to Federal agency heads within 1 year from the date of that report.
- Would require the Inspectors General (IGs) and the Comptroller General (GAO) to review reports on Federal spending data agencies submit and report to Congress, and the public on the data’s timeliness, quality, and accuracy. The first such IG report would be required no later than 18 months after the Secretary and the Director issue the standards for the reporting of financial and payment data (as previously described).
- Would authorize the Secretary to establish a data analysis center to provide data, analytic tools, and data management techniques to Federal agencies, IGs, and law enforcement agencies. The intent of this center would be to improve efficiency and transparency and reduce improper payments.
Section 5 – Debt Collection Improvement
- Would require Federal agencies to notify the Secretary of any legally enforceable non-tax debt that is over 120 days delinquent (as opposed to 180 days under current law) so that the Secretary can offset the debt administratively.
- Would require the Secretary to notify Congress of any instance in which an agency fails to notify Treasury of such a debt.
- Would be effective upon enactment.