In 2014, the DATA Act was passed, providing far easier access for citizens and journalists alike to examine government spending, and reducing the effort required for Inspectors General offices to deploy anti-fraud analytics software. The DATA act has two major deadlines:
- May 9th (of 2017) marks the date that most agencies are required to report standardized spending data to the Treasury Department, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), and the General Services Administration.
- One year from that date, The Treasury Department and the OMB must publish this standardized data on USASpending.gov.
In November of 2016, however, IG offices had to meet another deadline; they had to report whether their respective agencies were on track to meet deadlines. Recently, the Government Accountability Office put together a summary of IG findings.
Of the 18 agencies that IG offices rated, 13 of them were likely to meet the DATA Act requirements. The Departments of Interior and Housing and Urban Development were most behind on their requirements. Both of those agencies were seen as unlikely to meet either DATA Act deadline. Despite the progress, challenges are still expected in other agencies; the National Science Foundation, for instance, reported challenges in five of the seven categories of activities required to comply with the law.
Will the DATA Act be a success? Although they’re required to begin reporting the data this month, it might be a full year before we really understand how successful the act has been at providing transparency, because the data isn’t mandated to be public for another year. Inspectors General offices will provide another layer of scrutiny – they have additional reviews of whether agencies are meeting their obligations due in 2018 (after the May agency deadline) and 2020.