President Obama is expected to sign into law a bill that would require federal government agencies to itemize their spending in a single online location.
The Digital Accountability and Transparency Act (DATA Act) passed both chambers of Congress in April after the bill’s sponsors, Senators Mark Warner (D-Virginia) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio), secured unanimous bipartisan agreement — a rarity in today’s Washington. The bill was debated and worked on for three years before it won unanimous bipartisan approval this week.
The DATA Act will require government agencies to itemize their expenses in a single online database that, in theory, will be easier to search by the public compared to the current system. The system will require federal contractors and grantees to log their expense in a similar manner.
Proponents of the bill said the act would help hold the federal government accountable for its expenses while identifying areas of wasteful spending. Rep. Darrel Issa (R-California) projected the bill could save the government more than a billion dollars by identifying waste and fraud.
“Addressing rampant waste and fraud in government starts with making publicly accessible, structured information available online for everyone — taxpayers and watchdogs alike,” Issa said in a statement. “The DATA Act is a win for good government, moving the federal bureaucracy into the digital age and setting the stage for real accountability.”
Advocacy groups, including the Gun Owners of America, the Sunlight Foundation and the Project on Government Oversight (POGO), also voiced strong support for the bill.
“The DATA Act promises to allow us to truly track how our taxpayer dollars are spent,” Angela Canterbury, the director of public policy for POGO, said in a statement on Tuesday. “Today’s indecipherable patchwork of federal spending information will become standardized, open, and reconcilable. If properly implemented, the DATA Act could be one of the most transformational transparency policies in decades.”