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  • April 26, 2016 3:43 AM | Data Coalition Team (Administrator)


    DATA Act is significant, but it’s just the start

    At this morning’s Data Breakfast, hosted by the Data Coalition and presented by Esri, current and former federal analytics leaders, moderated by former Postal Service Inspector General Dave Williams, explored the use of analytics for oversight. The panelists were unanimous: if agencies invest in consistent data standards for the wealth of information that they collect and generate, anti­fraud analytics can generate outsized returns.

    Panelists focused on the expected impact of the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act of 2014 (DATA Act), which requires all agencies to adopt standardized fields and formats for their spending information by May 2017. “The DATA Act is significant, but it is just the start,” said Department of Justice assistant inspector general Jason Malmstrom. “The government is very good at collecting [spending] data, [but] it is only recently that we have begun to ask what we can do with that data.”

    Analytics technologies can serve as a “capability accelerator,” said MITRE Corporation principal Gordon Milbourn, “but the data really is the crux of the matter.” GAO Center for Enhanced Analytics director Vijay D’Souza cited federal agencies’ “analytics iceberg,” in which cleaning and preparing data, before it can be analyzed at all, incurs eighty percent of costs.

    “We desperately need the DATA Act implemented,” concluded Williams, who recently retired as Postal Service Inspector General to join the faculty of George Mason University. “The DATA Act is going to turbocharge agencies’ ability to deploy analytics in the fight against fraud,” said Data Coalition executive director Hudson Hollister. “That’s why our Coalition is insisting that agencies should embrace the law’s government­wide data standards ­ even in advance of the May 2017 deadline.”

    The DATA Act will align “a number of location ­based variables,” which will help inspectors general and agency leaders gain “a more holistic view of [each] project or problem of interest,” said Esri National Government Account Executive Marcella Cavallaro. Standardized spatial data means “new insights and enhanced analysis.”

    The Coalition’s 2016 DATA Act Summit, scheduled for May 26, 2016 at the Washington Hilton, will feature a panel of inspectors general for a follow ­up discussion on this morning’s themes.


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  • April 19, 2016 3:47 AM | Data Coalition Team (Administrator)


    Reps. Hurd, Meadows, Connolly, and Kelly Insist on Full Contractor Reporting Pilot Program, Vigorous Implementation

    Washington, D.C. — Today the Data Coalition commended the House Oversight Committee’s subcommittees on Information Technology and Government Operations on an effective oversight hearing on the implementation of the DATA Act of 2014, the nation’s first open data law. Jointly chaired by IT subcommittee chairman Will Hurd (R-TX) and Government Operations subcommittee chairman Mark Meadows (R-NC), the hearing revealed that federal agencies are on track to transform their spending information from disconnected documents into standardized, open data by May 2017, as the DATA Act requires.

    But Hurd, Meadows, and ranking members Robin Kelly (D-IL) and Gerry Connolly (D-VA) had to insist that the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) redesign a key pilot program and disavow a too-narrow interpretation of which data fields the law requires the executive branch to standardize.

    “The DATA Act means better transparency for American taxpayers outside government, data-driven analytics to improve management within government, and automated compliance to reduce grantees’ and contractors reporting costs to government,” said Hudson Hollister, executive director of the Data Coalition. “These benefits can only be realized if the Treasury Department and the White House OMB implement the law faithfully – even on technical details like insisting on a consistent data structure. Today, Reps. Hurd, Meadows, Kelly, and Connolly showed they’re willing to keep the Treasury Department and the White House honest by digging into those technical details themselves. We’re grateful for their leadership.”

    In one key moment, OMB Controller Dave Mader told the committee that OMB would redesign the contractor reporting pilot program required by Section 5 of the DATA Act and within 45 days. The law requires OMB to adopt a standardized data format for all information reported by federal contractors and test whether software could automate those reports, reducing compliance costs.

    A report by the Government Accountability Office released for the hearing revealed that OMB only intended to standardize one area of contractor reporting. Rep. Meadows insisted that OMB follow the law’s requirements by broadening the pilot program and collecting a full year of standardized reports. Mader promised OMB would do so.

    Rep. Meadows also took issue with OMB’s interpretation of the DATA Act to require the government to standardize a narrower range of data elements. A January GAO report indicated that OMB only viewed 11 out of the 57 DATA Act elements as strictly required by the law. But under Meadows’ questioning, Mader accepted a broader interpretation, recognizing all 57 data elements as legally mandatory.

    Rep. Hurd asked Fiscal Assistant Secretary Dave Lebryk if all agencies would meet the law’s requirement to standardize all spending information by May 2017. Lebryk told the committee, “The short answer is yes.” But he added that some agencies may have a harder time than others delivering high-quality data and establishing a crucial linkage between accounting and award systems.

    Rep. Hurd closed the hearing by recognizing that ultimately it is the responsibility of agencies to apply the standards and follow the reporting guidance issued by Treasury and OMB. Rep. Hurd asked OMB to provide a full list of agency officials responsible for DATA Act compliance. OMB committed to provide the list which Rep. Hurd hinted could be used to identify agencies to testify at a future oversight hearing assessing implementation progress which Rep. Connolly called for in September 2016.

    About the Data Coalition

    The Data Coalition advocates on behalf of the private sector and the public interest for the publication of government information as standardized, open data. Open data enhances accountability, improves government management, reduces compliance costs, and stimulates innovation. Representing a cross-section of the technology industry and implementers, the Coalition’s membership includes market leaders such as Workiva, RR Donnelley, Booz Allen Hamilton, and CGI Federal and growing start-ups such as idaciti and CBeyonData. For more information, visit datacoalition.org.

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  • April 14, 2016 3:53 AM | Data Coalition Team (Administrator)


    Government-Wide Open Data Mandate Means Better Transparency, Data-Driven Management, Automated Compliance

    The Data Coalition, which represents the growing open data industry, today applauded the introduction of the Open, Public, Electronic, and Necessary (OPEN) Government Data Act by Reps. Derek Kilmer (D-WA) and Blake Farenthold (R-TX). The OPEN Government Data Act directs all federal agencies to publish their information as machine-readable data, using searchable formats. Sens. Brian Schatz (D-HI) and Ben Sasse (R-NE) are expected to introduce the OPEN Government Data Act in the Senate shortly.

    “When government information is expressed as open data, it can be republished for better transparency outside government, analyzed for better management within government, and automated for cheaper reporting to government,” said Hudson Hollister, executive director of the Data Coalition. Our Coalition members’ technologies can do all those things, but only if the information is expressed as open data instead of disconnected documents.”

    The Coalition successfully advocated for the passage of the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act (DATA Act) of 2014, the nation’s first open data law. The DATA Act requires the federal government to express spending information as open data. The Coalition is currently supporting the Financial Transparency Act (H.R. 2477), which would transform financial regulatory information into open data. The OPEN Government Data Act applies the same principles more broadly across all information the federal government collects and generates.

    “Today, too much of the federal government’s vast landscape of valuable information isn’t open and machine-readable,” said Hollister. “For example, the government uses the proprietary DUNS Number to track recipients of grants and contracts. Since the DUNS Number is itself proprietary, owned by a private contractor, information about recipients isn’t open and cannot be freely used. The OPEN Government Data Act sets a presumption in favor of non-proprietary data formats that will fix this and many other problems.”

    The Data Coalition co-hosted an announcement event with the Center for Data Innovation this morning in Washington. Hollister moderated a panel discussion featuring Kat Duffy, director of Sunlight Labs; Tim Day, vice president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Center for Advanced Technology and Innovation; Jed Sundwall, head of open data at Amazon; and Joshua New, policy associate at the Center for Data Innovation.

    About the Data Coalition

    The Data Coalition advocates on behalf of the private sector and the public interest for the publication of government information as standardized, open data. Open data enhances accountability, improves government management, reduces compliance costs, and stimulates innovation. Representing a cross-section of the technology industry and implementers, the Coalition’s membership includes market leaders such as Workiva, RR Donnelley, Booz Allen Hamilton, and CGI Federal and growing start-ups such as idaciti and CBeyonData. For more information, visit datacoalition.org.

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  • March 01, 2016 3:56 AM | Data Coalition Team (Administrator)

    California Data Demo Day brings together legislators, agency officials, and advocates to make the case for open data

    Sacramento, CA — Over 100 attendees participated in the Data Coalition’s second annual California Data Demo Day in Sacramento. Hosted by Socrata, with additional sponsorship from the Department of Better Technology, the event spotlighted the state’s step-by-step progress in adopting consistent data standards to make its data searchable and publishing it for all to scrutinize and use.

    But the discussion also illuminated challenges that are impeding the benefits of open data – public accountability, analytics-driven management, and automated compliance reporting – from being realized.

    Representatives of Treasurer John Chiang, Attorney General Kamala Harris, and the Fair Political Practices Commission, joined by state legislative counsel Diane Boyer-Vine, introduced their offices’ groundbreaking open data projects. Chiang’s DebtWatch portal publishes municipalities’ debt filings as open data; Harris’ OpenJustice aggregates law enforcement information from state, county, and municipal sources; the FPPC is exploring ways to standardize and publish financial and contribution disclosures; and the legislature has adopted an XML open data format to automatically track the lineage and impact of amendments, bills, and existing law.

    Assembly members Ling Ling Chang (R-Los Angeles) and Brian Maienschein (R-SD) praised open data projects. “By releasing this data, the government is able to tap into the ingenuity of its citizens,” who can use open data sets to build useful apps and platforms. “Open data is a relatively new concept and one that is critically important to increasing transparency and making operations more effective and accountable to the public,” said Assembly member Brian Maienschein. Maienschein’s Assembly Bill 169, which passed last year, set requirements for California local governments’ open data publication.

    California’s legislative information, in particular, exemplifies the benefits of open data. Legislative Counsel Diane Boyer-Vine explained that the state’s XML data model for bills and amendments allows legislators and staffers to automatically view the impact of a proposed bill on existing law, even if the bill has been amended multiple times.

    But panelists noted that the state has embraced few sweeping open data transformations. Unlike other states, for example, California does not publish detailed, checkbook-level spending information as open data. Assembly member Chang said she would like to “see complete transparency with the budget … I feel like [the state] government is so opaque … [We must dig through] so many layers of complication to get the right information … Just to be able to search through the budget would be great.” Jan Ross, deputy treasurer for technology and innovation, explained that the state’s spending information is separately managed by multiple agencies, including the Department of Finance, Department of General Services, comptroller’s office, and treasurer’s office.

    Hurdles facing open data transformations include the availability of funding, privacy and reidentification concerns, cultural barriers, and the need to “show the quality of the data without manipulating it … [agencies must answer the question] is this raw data or curated data,” said Ross.

    Participants also noted that the state has no comprehensive plan for open data. Without clear expectations on which domains of the state’s and municipalities’ information will be standardized and published, and on what time frame, the technology industry cannot plan investments, said Sloane DellOrto of Digital Deployment, Inc. Assembly member Chang encouraged the industry to “come educate us on all the issues … It’s important to engage legislators early.”

    “California’s government needs to agree on big plans, then go after them incrementally,” said Coalition executive director Hudson Hollister. “The Data Coalition is excited to work with leaders like Assembly members Maienschein and Chang on the broad open data mandates to set expectations, then encourage agencies to move toward them with small wins.”

    Attendees represented many California executive branch agencies, including the Department of Justice, State Treasurer’s office, Department of Education, and California State Controller. Corporate participants included host sponsor Socrata, refreshment sponsor the Department of Better Technology, Esri, Information Builders, Open Gov, Tableau, Workiva, and Xcential.

    About the Data Coalition

    The Data Coalition advocates on behalf of the private sector and the public interest for the publication of government information as standardized, open data. Open data enhances accountability, improves government management, reduces compliance costs, and stimulates innovation. Representing a cross-section of the technology industry, the Coalition’s membership includes market leaders such as Workiva, RR Donnelley, Booz Allen Hamilton, and CGI Federal and growing start-ups such as idaciti and CBeyonData. For more information, visit datacoalition.org.

     

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  • January 27, 2016 3:59 AM | Data Coalition Team (Administrator)


    New Data Foundation will lead the way in open data research

    Washington, D.C. – -Today the supporters and leadership of the Data Transparency Coalition, the nation’s only open data trade association, announced a new chapter in their campaign to standardize and publish all government information as open data.

    The Data Transparency Coalition is changing its name to Data Coalition. “Our new name reflects the broad impact of open data: not only better transparency for citizens and investors, but also better management within government through analytics and cheaper compliance through standards-enabled automation,” said Hudson Hollister, founder and executive director of the Coalition.

    Today also marks the launch of the Data Foundation, the nation’s first industry-focused open data research organization. Through research, education, and programming, the new Foundation will illuminate the benefits of transforming government information into standardized, open data. The new Foundation draws its initial support from the leading companies of the Coalition, plus Kearney & Company.

    “As government agencies switch from paper-laden reports to digital reporting with structured data, companies like Workiva can automate the compliance process, which reduces errors and the costs of reporting,” said Mike Starr, Vice President of Governmental and Regulatory Affairs for Workiva. “Together, the Data Coalition and the new Data Foundation will provide the leadership needed to hasten the transformation from documents to data that can help change processes and, in turn, change the way people work.”

    “The Data Coalition is driving transformative reforms, like the DATA Act,” said Bryce Pippert, a principal at Booz Allen Hamilton, who also serves on both organizations’ boards. “ The new Data Foundation is the industry organization researching the benefits of these types of open data reforms — in support of better transparency for citizens, better management tools for government agencies, and enhancements to how information is shared and managed across government. Booz Allen Hamilton is proud to support both organizations.”

    The Coalition will continue to pursue the full implementation of the DATA Act of 2014, the passage of the proposed Financial Transparency Act, and similar reforms to transform government information into open data. Meanwhile, the new Foundation’s potential initial research projects include a federal DATA Act survey, a study of standardized business reporting, and a cost-benefit analysis of the universal adoption of the Legal Entity Identifier.

    Congressional champions of open data applauded the day’s announcements.

    “I’m pleased to see the growth of the Data Coalition and the establishment of the new Data Foundation,” said Senator Mark Warner (D-VA). “We will only succeed in modernizing our government with the assistance and support of the tech industry. I’ve been excited to see the capabilities of Data Coalition members to republish, analyze, and automate federal information once it’s expressed as standardized data instead of documents.”

    Alongside its research, the new Foundation will conduct educational programs, including the first-ever intensive DATA Act training program, to be co-produced on March 16-17 with the Performance Institute. The Foundation will also sponsor collaborative events, starting with the Open Data Day DC hackathon on March 4-5.

    About the Data Foundation

    The Data Foundation is the nation’s first industry-focused open data research organization. Through research, education, and programming, the new Foundation illuminates the benefits of transforming government information into standardized, open data. For more information, visit datafoundation.org.

    About the Data Coalition

    The Data Coalition advocates on behalf of the private sector and the public interest for the publication of government information as standardized, open data. Open data enhances accountability, improves government management, reduces compliance costs, and stimulates innovation. Representing a cross-section of the technology industry, the Coalition’s membership includes market leaders such as Workiva, RR Donnelley, Booz Allen Hamilton, and CGI Federal and growing start-ups such as idaciti and CBeyonData. For more information, visit datacoalition.org.

     

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  • December 02, 2015 4:03 AM | Data Coalition Team (Administrator)


    Capitol Hill Panelists Endorse Financial Transparency Act (H.R. 2477)

    Washington, D.C. – Financial expert Allan Mendelowitz today estimated that if U.S. financial regulatory agencies adopted consistent data formats for the information they collect, instead of using today’s document-based reports, a typical large investment firm could save “20 to 30 percent of operating expenses, or $200 to $300 million annually,” with similar savings across the whole financial industry.

    Mendelowitz, former chairman of the Federal Housing Finance Board, joined a panel organized by the Congressional Transparency Caucus, which is co-chaired by Reps. Darrell Issa (R-CA) and Mike Quigley (D-IL). Last May, Issa introduced, and Quigley cosponsored, the proposed Financial Transparency Act (H.R. 2477), which would require all eight major financial agencies to transform their existing reporting requirements into structured data.

    The bipartisan bill now boasts 28 cosponsors in the House of Representatives. Today’s panel featured Mendelowitz, Center for Data Innovation director Daniel Castro, and Sunlight Foundation senior policy analyst Matt Rumsey. All three praised the Financial Transparency Act.

    Transforming financial regulatory reports from documents into data is “a win-win for both the [financial] industry and the regulatory community,” said Mendelowitz. “Most regulatory reporting today is a dead-weight loss. I have yet to find a firm that uses the material provided to the regulator to manage the firm.” But if regulators collected structured data instead of documents, management could “be looking at the same analytics as the regulators,” reducing compliance costs.

    Meanwhile, regulators would benefit from the ability to deploy analytics. Switching from documents to data “is going to help identify [future] Enrons and … Bernie Madoffs … better open data that can be analyzed quickly by regulators and by [the public can] catch those problems before they become huge scandals,” said Rumsey.

    Castro pointed to the Financial Transparency Act’s emphasis on adopting a consistent identification code for the firms and companies that report to regulators, drawing a parallel to the healthcare industry. “If you don’t have unique patient identifiers, you cannot treat people well,” said Castro. “This is the exact same problem we have in the financial sector.” But the Financial Transparency Act requires all U.S. financial agencies to move toward the Legal Entity Identifier (LEI), a nonproprietary identification code already endorsed by the G20 group of nations but being resisted by some U.S. agencies.

    Mendelowitz said the financial industry would benefit from the universal adoption of the LEI: “If everybody used the LEI, there would be no ambiguity” about counterparties to transactions, and firms could “speed up clearing and settlement.”

    In opening remarks, Issa cited a third benefit, beyond reduced compliance costs for industry and analytics for regulators: transparency for investors. “We need to get to precision that only comes with all [financial] information being available equally to the large and the small,” Issa said.

    “Today’s Congressional Transparency Caucus panel showed that the financial industry, the technology industry, and the cause of open government can all benefit from the move from documents to data,” said Hudson Hollister, Executive Director of the Data Transparency Coalition. “Unfortunately, U.S. financial regulatory agencies are too often using plain-text documents and forms for the information they collect under the securities, commodities, and banking laws. Even where they use data, they have failed to coordinate data fields across different reporting requirements.”

    “We are calling on the House of Representatives to act quickly on the Financial Transparency Act to speed these agencies toward adopting the consistent data standards that are needed to modernize financial regulation,” Hollister concluded.

    For more information on the Financial Transparency Act (H.R. 2477).

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  • October 20, 2015 4:05 AM | Data Coalition Team (Administrator)


    Washington, D.C. – The Data Transparency Coalition (DTC) applauded the Small Business Administration for teeing off on DATA Act implementation. The Coalition hosted a breakfast at PwC to provide an opportunity to hear from the front-line DATA Act implementers—the Small Business Administration (SBA), the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), and the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB).

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  • August 31, 2015 4:07 AM | Data Coalition Team (Administrator)

    Washington, D.C. – Today, applying the DATA Act of 2014, the Treasury Department and the White House Office of Management and Budget finalized the 57 data fields that could deliver transformative transparency to U.S. citizens, data-driven management within federal agencies, and automated reporting for grantees and contractors. Supporters of modernizing government should applaud the nearly sixteen months of hard work by Treasury and OMB leaders that brought us to this point.

    OMB’s blog post today says that this milestone follows “a robust engagement with stakeholders.” Treasury and OMB did, indeed solicit electronic input on all 57 data fields on the GitHub web platform. But it isn’t clear that they took this input into account. Notably, Treasury and OMB chose to adopt the proprietary DUNS Number as the favored, government-wide identifier for recipients of federal funds – even though every GitHub comment said they shouldn’t. The agencies did promise to announce a process that will re-evaluate how the government tracks this crucial detail; the details are not available yet.

    It also seems that all the input submitted by stakeholders is no longer public, meaning we’ll need to file a Freedom of Information Act request in order to test claims about engagement.

    Our Coalition is committed to supporting full data transparency for federal spending. This means supporting Treasury and OMB’s leadership as they mandate the 57 data fields, and the schema that explains how the fields relate to each other, across all information reported by federal agencies on their finances, budgets, payments, and awards. The deadline for compliance with the standards is May 9, 2017.

    We also will be watching OMB’s Section 5 pilot program, which is intended to test the data standards within the reports that recipients of federal contracts, grants, and other assistance must file. The DATA Act requires OMB (or its designee) to recruit recipients and invite them to submit their official reports in electronic formats consistent with the DATA Act standards. This crucial step has not yet been taken. The National Dialogue OMB has announced falls far short of a real pilot program.

    Ultimately, the DATA Act will only succeed if agencies are able to use federal spending information in new ways after it is standardized. Our members’ technologies can do that – and some of those solutions are already being deployed in early standardization and visualization projects. On September 23rd at Data Transparency 2015, our annual policy conference, live DATA Act solutions will be on display.

    We are grateful for the work of Fiscal Assistant Secretary Lebryk, Controller Mader, and their teams, and will do everything we can to ensure the goals of the DATA Act – full transparency, data-driven management, automated reporting – are realized in the years ahead.

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  • August 27, 2015 4:16 AM | Data Coalition Team (Administrator)

    Sacramento, California – Legislators, technology companies, government leaders, and civic technologists got a “taste” of the benefits of open data at this morning’s first-ever California Data Demo Day at the State Capitol, hosted by the Data Transparency Coalition and presented by Teradata. Coalition members showcased technologies to visualize, analyze, and automate government information, transforming disconnected documents into open, searchable data.

    Sen. Richard Pan (D-6th, Sacramento) spoke out for SB573, his proposal to establish a state Chief Data Officer and require agencies to participate in a government-wide move toward standardization and publication. Asm. Phil Ting (D-19th, San Francisco) told attendees that better data standards and availability would improve government management.

    “The potential for better transparency, better state management, increased economic activity, and lowered compliance costs cannot be realized unless our state chooses to standardize and publish our public data,” said Dr. Pan. SB 573 takes that crucial first step by appointing a Chief Data Officer who will establish an open data portal in the state.”

    “The technology industry already has the technology to better connect citizens with their government, fight waste and fraud through analytics, and cut compliance costs through automation,” said Hudson Hollister, executive director of the Data Transparency Coalition. “But these solutions all depend on whether governments choose to adopt common formats and make data consistently available. By supporting open data policies, Dr. Pan and Asm. Ting are enabling new technologies that will transform government and society.”

    Attendees represented many California executive branch agencies, including the Department of Technology, the Department of Corrections, the Highway Patrol, and others. Corporate participants included:

    • IRIS Business Services showed its standardized data reporting solution, in use around the world.
    • Socrata displayed its publication platform, which enables cost-effective open data for a majority of state governments and nearly every large U.S. city.
    • Teradata showed how data standardization could give program managers, watchdogs, and the public instant insights into the impact and performance of government grants.
    • Tableau Software showed its ability to help non-IT professionals easily visualize data sets.
    • Workiva demonstrated its reporting platform, used by most Fortune 500 companies for reporting to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, and explained how the same platform could be deployed for other types of government reporting.
    • Information Builders showed how public-sector spending transparency would dramatically improve with the adoption of more consistent data standards.

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    About the Data Transparency Coalition

    The Data Transparency Coalition is the only trade association pursuing the publication of government information as standardized, machine-readable data. Through advocacy, education, and collaboration, the Coalition supports policy reforms that require consistent data standardization and publication. Data transparency enhances accountability, improves government management, reduces compliance costs, and stimulates innovation. Representing a cross-section of the technology industry, the Data Transparency Coalition membership includes market leaders such as Teradata Corporation, Workiva, RR Donnelley, PwC, Booz Allen Hamilton, and CGI Federal and growing start-ups such as FindTheBest, Enigma.io, and Level One Technologies. For more information, visit datacoalition.org.

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  • July 29, 2015 4:53 AM | Data Coalition Team (Administrator)

    Washington, D.C. – The Data Transparency Coalition (DTC) today applauded the House Oversight Committee for its hearing on the implementation of the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act of 2014 (DATA Act). Today’s hearing, conducted jointly by the Subcommittee on Information Technology and the Subcommittee on Government Operations, validated the importance of the DATA Act as a transformative piece of legislation, bringing the government’s spending data into the 21st century.

    “Congress recognizes that making federal spending electronically searchable is the only way to make the government accountable to its citizens,” said Hudson Hollister, executive director of the Data Transparency Coalition. “The DATA Act of 2014 provides a mandate for Treasury and the White House to impose the necessary data standards across all the spending information agencies already generate and report. Congress must stay engaged on what it mandated last year. Today’s hearing showed the House Oversight Committee won’t forget what the DATA Act requires and won’t rest until it’s done.”

    Today’s Oversight Committee witnesses came from the three government agencies whose efforts are central in ensuring the successful implementation of the DATA Act. The witnesses included: Gene L. Dodaro, Comptroller General, Government Accountability Office; David Mader, Controller, Office of Management and Budget; David Lebryk, Fiscal Assistant Secretary, Department of the Treasury; and Robert Taylor, Deputy Assistant Inspector General of Audit, Department of the Treasury.

    The subcommittees focused their attention on four areas:

    1. Chairman Will Hurd (IT Subcommittee, R-TX) urged Treasury and OMB to press agencies to quickly map their existing spending information to the DATA Act standards. Chairman Hurd expressed skepticism that federal agencies will require the full two-year period the law prescribes to match data from their existing financial and award systems to the 57 data elements announced last May by Treasury and OMB. 

    Chairman Hurd challenged Fiscal Assistant Secretary Lebryk: “For [my perspective] it doesn’t take two years to map that. What is the deadline for the agencies to just identify those 57 pieces of information [data elements]”? Assistant Secretary Lebryk responded, “Agencies are putting small teams together. It doesn’t take lots of people to do this. From that effort we’ll have a much better sense of the level and degree of difficulty to get to that end stage… by end of summer, early September.” Under Hurd’s questioning, Comptroller General Dodaro testified: “ I don’t think it should require a lot of resource to identify whether they have 57 data elements or not.” Rep. Hurd concluded his round of questioning by offering to backstop Treasury’s efforts to compel agencies to map their existing information to the DATA Act standards: “[T]his will be something that we continue to look at”.

    2. Chairman Tim Meadows (IT Subcommittee, R-NC) asked OMB to explain why its mandated pilot program to test standardized recipient reporting seems to lack any substance. Rep. Meadows challenged Controller Mader: “[OMB’s] pilot program [as it’s described to me] misses the target! It’s a blog! It’s not clearly defined.” 

    Section 5 of the DATA Act requires OMB to conduct a pilot program to test whether the law’s data standards allow grantees and contractors to compile and submit their federal reports more efficiently. OMB has designated the Department of Health and Human Services to lead the pilot for grantee reporting; however, no agency or entity has been appointed to conduct the contracts portion. Moreover, neither OMB nor HHS has explained when grantees or contractors will be invited to voluntarily use the DATA Act data standards within official reports – a necessary step in the pilot.

    3. Ranking Member Robin Kelly (IT Subcommittee, D-IL) pressed for government-wide anti-fraud analytics. Kelly questioned the Treasury Department’s decision not to absorb the the Recovery Operation Center (ROC), the soon-to-expire Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board’s anti-fraud data analytics center.

    4. Rep. Tim Walberg (R-MI) pressed OMB on the need to match performance and spending on a program-by-program basis. Walberg urged Controller Mader to commit to a time frame for matching the list of federal programs that OMB must compile under the Government Performance and Results Act Modernization Act of 2010 to the program breakdown required by the DATA Act. Tracking both spending (under DATA) and performance (under GPRAMA) by program was a central recommendation of GAO Comptroller General Dodaro’s testimony. However, Mader responded that OMB would be unable to make any firm commitments because the “same people” who would be tasked with program-by-program performance tracking are also responsible for implementing the DATA Act.

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    About the Data Transparency Coalition

    The Data Transparency Coalition is the only trade association pursuing the publication of government information as standardized, machine-readable data. Through advocacy, education, and collaboration, the Coalition supports policy reforms that require consistent data standardization and publication. Data transparency enhances accountability, improves government management, reduces compliance costs, and stimulates innovation. Representing a cross-section of the technology industry, the Data Transparency Coalition membership includes market leaders such as Teradata Corporation, Workiva, RR Donnelley, PwC, Booz Allen Hamilton, and CGI Federal and growing start-ups such as FindTheBest, Enigma.io, and Level One Technologies. For more information, visit datacoalition.org.

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