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April 28, 2014

DATA Act Passes House, Advances to President for Signature

By Daniel Schuman

DATA ActToday the House of Representatives unanimously passed the federal spending transparency bill commonly known as the DATA Act.

The Senate passed an identical version of the bill on April 10, and the measure will now proceed to the president. We and a coalition of organizations have repeatedly called for the measure to be enacted into law and we hope President Obama will add his signature to the most important transparency bill to have advanced thus far in the 113th Congress.

The central idea behind the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act is simple: disclose to the public what the federal government spends. The means necessary to accomplish this purpose—increased agency reporting, the use of modern technology, implementation of government-wide standards, regular quality assurance on the data—will require government to systematically address how it stovepipes federal spending information. This is no small task, and one that is long overdue.

The effort to reform transparency around federal spending arose in large part because members of both political parties concluded that their ability to govern effectively depends on making sure federal spending data is comprehensive, accessible, reliable, and timely. Currently, it is not. The leaders of the reform efforts in the Senate are Senators Mark Warner (D-VA), Rob Portman (R-OH), Tom Carper (D-DE), and Tom Coburn (R-OK), and the leaders in the House are Representatives Darrell Issa (R-CA) and Elijah Cummings (D-MD), although they are joined by many others.

We welcome and applaud the House of Representative's passage of the DATA Act. It is a remarkable bill that, if properly implemented, will empower elected officials and everyday citizens alike to follow how the federal government spends money.

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