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November 19, 2013

DATA Act Passes House

By Daniel Schuman

DATA Act SearchYesterday evening, the House of Representatives passed the DATA Act 388-1. The transformative legislation will make federal spending information more open, reliable, and accurate. In turn, this will help reduce government waste, fraud, and abuse, and lead to greater public understanding of federal priorities.

The legislation, first introduced in June 2011, garnered bipartisan support in the House’s Committee on Oversight and Government (COGR), and was recently favorably reported out of the Senate’s Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee (HSGAC) on a bipartisan basis.

CREW has long supported the DATA Act and cheers its passage by the House. COGR Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) and Ranking Member Elijah Cummings (D-MD) deserve credit for steering this legislation to passage, with the support of House leadership. Similarly, Senators Mark Warner (D-VA) and Rob Portman (R-OH) should be applauded for introducing companion legislation in the Senate, and HSGAC Chairman Tom Carper (D-DE) and Ranking Member Tom Coburn (R-OK) deserve praise for shaping the legislation and advancing it through committee. We hope the Senate will soon pass the companion bill.

While there are some differences between the House and Senate versions, the two bills are not that far apart and differences can be worked out by conference committee. We are drawn to the more elegant Senate bill language, but strongly support the House’s “accountability platform,” which provides additional tools to track down waste, fraud and abuse. We also prefer granting the Treasury Department control and responsibility for the updated USASpending.gov website, and hope the pilot program whereby recipients report spending directly to the government is retained. But that is a discussion for another day.

Passage of the DATA Act by the House is another example of the universal appeal of transparency. We congratulate the House on its passage.

 

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