Bill to track every federal dollar headed to Obama’s desk

The House on Monday gave final congressional approval to a bipartisan bill that would require federal agencies to report all of their expenditures online in a single location.

White House officials said President Obama plans to sign the so-called DATA Act, which both chambers of Congress passed the  unanimously this month in a rare showing of widespread agreement. Sens. Mark Warner (D-Va.) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio) sponsored the legislation.


(Karen Bleier/AFP/Getty Images)

“In the digital age, we should be able to search online to see how every grant, contract and disbursement is spent in a more connected and transparent way through the federal government,” Warner said in a joint statement Monday with other lawmakers who backed the bill.

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), who sponsored a similar measure in 2011 with Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), described the DATA Act as “a win for good government, moving the federal bureaucracy into the digital age and setting the stage for real accountability.”

Transparency advocates have complained that federal agencies rarely make spending data readily available under the current system. The Data Transparency Coalition applauded the House vote on Monday, calling on Obama to sign the bill and commit the Office of Management and Budget to “pursue robust standards throughout federal financial, budget, grant and contract reporting.”

Comptroller General Gene Dodaro, who heads the Government Accountability Office, said during testimony this month that the DATA Act is the “single biggest thing” lawmakers could do to identify wasteful federal spending.

Some industry groups have raised concerns about whether the reporting mandates in the bill would burden contractors, but the Professional Services Council, which represents the government-services industry, said the requirements are narrow in scope.

“We believe the overall goal of reducing the costs of compliance reporting is a laudable one,” said PSC Executive Vice President Alan Chvotkin.

Follow Josh Hicks on TwitterFacebook or Google+. Connect by e-mail at  josh.hicks(at)washpost.comVisit The Federal Eye, and The Fed Page for more federal news. Submit news tips and suggestions to federalworker@washpost.com.

Josh Hicks covers the federal government and anchors the Federal Eye blog. He reported for newspapers in the Detroit and Seattle suburbs before joining the Post as a contributor to Glenn Kessler’s Fact Checker blog in 2011.
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