Our dream of transparent federal spending data and government accountability is a step closer to reality.

The U.S. Senate has unanimously passed the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act, or DATA Act. Nearly three years in the making, the legislation would standardize the ways in which federal spending information is reported and call for the creation of a searchable online database that would let all Americans see how the government is spending their money.

The bill next moves to the House for final approval there. Passage by the House could come soon after the Congressional recess ends on April 28.

“The final bill is the most significant open-government legislation since the Freedom of Information Act in 1966 and the most significant change in federal financial management since the CFO Act of 1990,” said Hudson Hollister, executive director of the Data Transparency Coalition and one of the driving forces behind the legislation. “It promises government-wide data standards for spending. It promises the transformation, through open data, of diverse federal reporting requirements, from financial account balances to budget actions to payment requests to grant and contract recipient reporting.”

Speaking of transparency, I should tell you that the MACPA is a member of the Data Transparency Coalition. We believe in its mission and wholeheartedly support the passage of the DATA Act.

Think about what we can do when our government’s data is standardized and transparent — create jobs, prevent fraud and waste, reduce spending, strengthen governmental accountability. Those things are real, and open data can make them happen. In the words of Marcel Jemio, chief data architect at the Treasury Department’s Bureau of the Fiscal Service, “Open data might be the most powerful lever of 21st-century government.”

And for those of you who see the phrase “standardized data” and think “XBRL” … well, we like the way you think.

Find out more about the DATA Act here:

 

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