House of Representatives Passes Bill Requiring Federal Grant Recipients to Report to Independent Board
Bill H.R.2146, titled the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act (DATA), was approved by the House this week. It establishes a board that will keep track of spending via federal grants and contracts. The information will appear on a single website in a standardized format available to the public for analysis. The hope is that the bill will decrease waste, increase transparency, and prevent spending scandals such as the recent General Services Administration conference which cost taxpayers over $800,000.
Digital Accountability and Transparency Act of 2011 or DATA Act - Title I: Accountability and Transparency in Federal Spending - (Sec. 101) Requires each person, state, local, or tribal government, or any government corporation (recipient) that receives appropriated funds, either directly or through a subgrant or subcontract at any tier, to report at least once quarterly each receipt and use of such funds to the Federal Accountability and Spending Transparency Board established by this Act.
Requires the Board to permit prime awardees to fulfill the reporting requirements on behalf of subawardees, so long as all subaward tiers are reported.
Requires each executive agency to report all federal obligations and expenditures to the Board, identifying programs and budget functions.
Exempts an individual recipient from such reporting requirements if: (1) the total amount of federal funds received does not exceed $100,000 in the current calendar or fiscal year, or (2) no transaction in which the recipient has received federal funds during the current calendar year or fiscal year has exceeded $24,999. Authorizes the Board to grant additional exemptions for classes or categories of recipients.
(Sec. 102) Requires the Board to designate: (1) common data elements for information required to be reported; as well as (2) data reporting standards, including a widely accepted, nonproprietary, searchable, platform-independent computer-readable format.
Requires the Board to establish one or more websites for the publication of all information submitted by recipients and agencies to serve as a public portal for federal financial information.
Authorizes the Board to make contracts or agreements with any federal agency (within or outside the executive branch) to publish data it maintains on the website or websites.
Requires the Board and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to transfer the functions of USASpending.gov to the website or websites.
Requires the Board to establish a federal accountability portal (an integrated Internet-based system, consisting of one or more websites) to: (1) combine information submitted by recipients and agencies with other compilations of information; (2) permit executive agencies to verify the eligibility of recipients to receive federal funds and to access information relevant to the responsibility of recipients; and (3) permit executive agencies, Inspectors General (IGs), and law enforcement agencies to track federal awards and recipients to detect and prevent waste, fraud, and abuse.
Prescribes civil penalties for recipient noncompliance with data reporting requirements.
Specifies responsibilities of the Director of OMB, the Secretary of the Treasury, and the Administrator of the General Services Administration (GSA) regarding implementation of the required common data element or data reporting standard.
(Sec. 103) States that nothing in this Act shall affect the independent authority of an Inspector General (IG) to determine whether to conduct an audit or investigation.
Title II: Federal Accountability and Spending Transparency Board - (Sec. 201) Establishes the Federal Accountability and Spending Transparency Board (Board) in the executive branch. Transfers to it all functions of the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board, including its employees.
Requires the Board to audit, investigate, and review the spending of federal funds, giving high priority to funds awarded: (1) without the use of competitive procedures, or (2) to any contractor found to be in violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act of 1977.
Requires the Board to report to appropriate congressional committees on tax expenditures data that includes a description of processes that could be put in place to collect and disseminate such data, and the potential effects of making such data publicly available on the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), taxpayers, and other relevant parties. Requires such report to be publicly available.
Requires the Board to make recommendations to executive agencies on measures to prevent fraud, waste, and abuse relating to federal funds.
Authorizes the Board to enter into contracts with any federal agency (within or outside the executive branch) to enable it to identify waste, fraud, and abuse.
Authorizes appropriations for FY2012-FY2018.
(Sec. 203) Makes conforming amendments to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) to terminate the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board on October 1, 2013.