In May 2014, President Obama signed the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act of 2014 (DATA Act) (P.L. 113-101) into law. Once implemented, the DATA Act will make Federal spending data more accessible, searchable, and reliable. It will not only make it easier to understand how the Federal government spends taxpayer dollars but will also serve as a tool for better oversight, data-centric decision-making, and innovation both inside and outside of government. The U.S. Department of the Treasury (Treasury) and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) are leading the government-wide implementation of the DATA Act.
There are several components to the DATA Act:
Setting Data Standards
The overall data standardization effort consists of two parallel, yet related efforts:
1. Setting data standards that improve the quality of Federal spending data; and,
2. Creating a
standard data exchange (the way data is submitted) to codify this data in standard computer readable formats.
On August 31, 2015, OMB and Treasury, after consulting with Federal and non-Federal stakeholders, finalized the definitions of 57 standardized data elements. OMB and Treasury leveraged inter-agency councils to identify data elements and standardized definitions deemed useful across the Federal government. Furthermore, OMB and Treasury used GitHub, a publicly accessible website, to solicit feedback from all non-Federal stakeholders. After rigorous review in inter-agency councils, each data element was posted for a 3-week public input period on Github to ensure that all stakeholders had an adequate opportunity to provide valuable feedback during the data element standardization process. The public input we received informed our work, and we responded by updating the papers we posted on Github at Federal Spending Transparency. The final data standards are posted online at https://max.gov/datastandards.
While these data standards will help to ensure that information will be consistent and comparable, a standard data exchange will make financial management data accessible and reusable. By May 2017, all Federal agencies will provide data for posting on USAspending.gov using a standard data exchange called the "DATA Act Schema." Information on the standard data exchange can be found here DATA Act Schema Summary.pdf
OMB has provided guidance to agencies through the following policy documents:
May 8, 2015: Memorandum (M-15-12), "Increasing Transparency of Federal Spending by Making Federal Spending Data Accessible, Searchable, and Reliable."
This memorandum outlines how Federal agencies will implement the new DATA Act requirements and their ongoing reporting responsibilities for USAspending.gov.
December 4, 2015:
Controller Alert, "DATA Act Implementation and Offices for Financial Assistance Awards."
This Controller Alert clarifies specific sections of M-15-12 and some related deadlines.
May 3, 2016: Management Procedures Memorandum (MPM 2016-03), "Additional Guidance for DATA Act Implementation: Implementing a Data-Centric Approach for Reporting Federal Spending Information."
This MPM provides guidelines regarding the linkage between financial and management systems, new requirements for reporting financial assistance data, new information on agency assurance of internal controls over the data, and information about authoritative sources for data.
To assist agencies with implementation, OMB and Treasury have also created a playbook of eight recommendations that, if followed together, will help agencies fulfill the requirements of the DATA Act by leveraging existing capabilities and streamlining implementation efforts. As Federal agencies begin implementation, Treasury and OMB will continue to refine the playbook. Information on the playbook can be found here Summary of DATA Act Playbook.pdf.
DATA Act Section 5 Pilot
OMB, in collaboration with the Chief Acquisition Officers Council, Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and the General Services Administration (GSA) is engaged in a multiphase, multifaceted approach that will result in recommendations to reduce reporting burden, standardize processes, and reduce costs for Federal awardees.
Phase 1 (May 2015 – May 2017): National Dialogue and Pilot to Reduce Reporting Compliance Costs for Federal Contractors and Grantees
The dialogue sponsored by the Chief Acquisition Officers Council, HHS, and GSA is generating ideas to streamline reporting for Federal contractors and grantees. Join the
Phase 2 (May 2015- May 2017): Pilots for Simplifying Federal Award Reporting
While the recipient reporting for Federal contracts and grants are similar, there are reporting burdens unique to each. To gather recommendations for easing reporting for recipients of Federal contracts and grants, OMB is conducting the pilot with two primary focus areas.
Pilot Focus – Federal Procurement Track
OMB is responsible for leading the procurement pilot and is collaborating with GSA and the Chief Acquisition Officers Council to:
Identify recommendations in the National Dialogue for further review
Develop a central reporting portal prototype and collection tool, and
Test the portal by centrally collecting select FAR required reports that are currently reported across the Federal government, beginning with collection of reports required under FAR 22.406-6
Pilot Focus - Federal Grants Track
OMB has engaged HHS to execute the grants-specific portion of the pilot. As the largest grant-issuing agency and owner of Grants.gov and the Payment Management System, HHS is uniquely positioned to provide tactical leadership for the grants pilot, which includes:
Testing and analysis for consolidating the Federal Financial Reporting process
Testing and analysis for consolidating SF-SAC and SEFA reporting
Developing and testing the
Common Data Elements Repository Library (C-DER Library) for financial assistance data
Increasing access to information about the grants lifecycle through the Learn Grants page on grants.gov
OMB and HHS will finalize the testing and sampling methodology in the winter of 2015/2016, and the pilot will be conducted between the spring 2016- spring 2017. For more information about the Grants Pilot, visit the
HHS DATA Act PMO Section 5 Pilot.
Successful implementation of the standardized data elements is of the utmost importance to both Federal and non-Federal stakeholders. To help ensure successful implementation of the DATA Act, we rely on feedback from stakeholders inside and outside the Federal government. We've created a
collaboration space to foster two-way communication and the open exchange of ideas between Federal and non-Federal stakeholders.