House committee passes data transparency bill

By Jason Miller
Executive Editor
Federal News Radio

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee today passed the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act of 2011.

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) chairman of the committee and author of the bill, offered an amendment as a substitute, adding suggestions from agency inspector generals, the Government Accountability Office, transparency and open government groups and minority members of the committee.

“The DATA Act is the culmination of two years or more of bi-partisan efforts,” Issa said at the committee mark up hearing. “The DATA Act extends the Recovery Board and expands and mandates and changes it, essentially to standardize over the broad basis of the U.S. financial oversight. Particularly the DATA Act is to combine federal agencies with information reported by grantees, contractors onto a single platform. It will impose consistent data elements and reporting standards on spending information so that reports pertaining to different agencies in different programs will become compatible.”

The major changes in the amendment include a notice and comment requirements of the Administrative Procedures Act and clarifies the need for information about the relationship between contractors and subcontractors.

“The real fruit of waste or inefficiencies or just wanting to know on behalf of the American people occurs with subcontractors or even sub-subcontractors,” Issa said.

The amendment also would require a majority vote for the Federal Accountability and Spending Transparency (FAST) Board to use its testimony and subpoena power, and it incorporates Rep. Elijah Cummings’ (D-Md.) proposal to improve the Government Accountability Office.

Rep. Mike Quigley (R-Ill.) also added an amendment to require the FAST Board consider adding tax expenditures data to the government spending website created by bill.

Additionally an amendment from Rep. Peter Welch (R-Vt.) to require the website to include data on contractors who have violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act received approval.

Issa introduced the DATA Act June 13. Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) also introduced a companion bill.

The committee also passed two other bills.

Quigley sponsored the Access to Congressionally Mandated Reports Act to require agencies to send all mandated reports to the Government Printing Office, and have GPO publish those reports on a public website.

Finally, the committee also approved the Civilian Service Recognition Act. This bill authorizes the presentation of a United States flag at the funeral of federal civilian employees who are killed while performing official duties or because of their status as a federal employee.

All three bills now go to the full House for a vote.

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