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Federal Data Transparency: Opportunities Remain to Incorporate Recovery Act Lessons Learned

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Citation Edit

Government Accountability Office, Federal Data Transparency: Opportunities Remain to Incorporate Recovery Act Lessons Learned (GAO-13-871T) (Sept. 18, 2013) (full-text).

Overview Edit

Several federal entities, including the Government Accountability and Transparency Board (GAT Board), the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board (Recovery Board), and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), have initiatives under way to improve the accuracy and availability of federal spending data.

The GAT Board, through its working groups, developed approaches to standardize key data elements to improve data integrity; link financial management systems with award systems to reconcile spending data with obligations; and leverage existing data to help identify and reduce fraud, waste, and abuse.

With no dedicated funding, the GAT Board plans are incremental and leverage ongoing agency initiatives and resources designed to improve existing business processes as well as improve data transparency. These initiatives are in an early stage, and some progress has been made to bring greater consistency to contract and grant award identifiers. The GAT Board's mandate is to provide strategic direction, not to implement changes. Further, while these early plans are being developed with input from a range of federal stakeholders, the GAT Board and OMB have not developed mechanisms for obtaining input from non-federal fund recipients.

This testimony addresses (1) the status of transparency efforts under way and (2) the extent to which new initiatives address lessons learned from the Recovery Act. The GAO reviewed relevant legislation, executive orders, OMB circulars and guidance, and previous GAO work, including work on Recovery Act reporting.

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