Number:  113-13
Date:  December 12, 2013

House Passes H.R. 2061,
the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act of 2013

On November 18, 2013, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 2061, the Digital Accountability and Transparency (DATA) Act of 2013, as amended, under suspension of the rules by a vote of 388 - 1.  The bill would expand disclosure of Federal agency spending, including Federal contracts, loans, and awards.  It would also establish government-wide data standards for the publication and use of Federal spending information.  The bill also adds transparency measures and spending limits to conference spending and travel.  The bill now moves to the Senate for further action.

Following are provisions of interest to SSA:

Amendments to the Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act of 2006

  • Would require the Secretary of the Treasury to collect, maintain, and publish on the website spending data for all Federal funds as indicated by Federal agency, appropriations account, program activity, type of service or property purchased, and other accounts.
  • Would require the Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with Federal agencies, to establish government-wide financial data standards for Federal funds.  The standards would apply to funds data collected, maintained and published by the Secretary.  The standards would include common data elements, ensure interoperability, and include data reporting standards that are searchable, readable, and not protected by trademark, patent, or copyright.
  • Would require the Secretary to issue guidance on the financial data standards established no later than one year after enactment.  No later than 180 days after the Secretary issues such guidance, Federal agencies would collect, report, and maintain data in accordance with the established guidance.
  • Would require the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to review financial reporting for Federal award recipients and, not later than a year after enactment, provide guidance to Federal agencies on simplification, consolidation, and cost reduction for such financial reporting.  No later than 18 months after enactment, OMB would submit a report to Congress on any legislative actions required to achieve these financial reporting objectives.
  • Would require Inspectors General of each Federal agency and the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to report biennially on samples of financial data submitted by each agency for completeness, timeliness, accuracy, and quality.  The Inspectors General and GAO would also study the implementation and use of consistent data standards by each agency.  The provision would end six years after the date of enactment.

Limits and Transparency for Conferences and Travel

  • Would limit Federal agencies to spend no more than $500,000 on a conference unless the agency head waives the limit after determining the expenditure is the most cost-effective option to achieve a compelling purpose.  Agencies would be required to submit a report on the waiver, and their justification for it, to the appropriate congressional committees.
  • Would require agencies to post on their public websites each quarter of each fiscal year (FY) a report on conferences costing more than $10,000 for which the agency paid travel expenses during the preceding three months.  Would also require agencies to post on their public websites detailed information on any presentation made by an employee at a conference.
  • Would limit aggregate travel expenses of Federal agencies for each year from FY 2014 through FY 2018 to 70 percent of the aggregate amount of its travel expenses for FY 2010.
  • Would require the head of each agency to report to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee and the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee on the impacts, if any, of travel expense limits on the agency’s mission, cost-effectiveness, efficiency, and ability to perform core functions.
  • Would become effective upon enactment, unless otherwise stated.