Congress Passes DATA Act


It’s not immigration reform, or renewal of unemployment insurance but Congress found a way to pass one law before the midterms – the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act (DATA Act). The DATA Act is sponsored by Chairman Issa and Ranking Member Cummings in the House and by Sens. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) and Rob Portman (R-OH) in the Senate. Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee Chairman Tom Carper (D-DE) and Ranking Member Tom Coburn (R-OK) helped craft the final legislation.

The bill is considered a victory for open data advocates who are pushing for a single data standard.

First introduced by Chairman Issa and Ranking Member Cummings in 2011, the DATA Act originated from the success of the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board, an entity of the “Stimulus” spending bill that standardized reporting requirements and published spending information online in a useable format for journalists, watchdogs, and the public. The DATA Act applies the same tools to change how lawmakers and the public can track federal dollars by establishing government-wide structured data standards for contracts, loans, and grants.

The legislation establishes a two-year pilot for consolidated recipient reporting for entities receiving federal taxpayer funds, including states, localities, and universities. The legislation also authorizes the Treasury Department to create a data analytics center based on the successful Recovery Operations Center to enable law enforcement and federal agency inspectors general to prevent improper payments.

Advocates for the bill included the Data Transparency Coalition and several startups that presented at Data Day in the House last year. The bill now goes to the President’s desk for signature.