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Government spending transparency legislation heads to president

4/30/2014, 10:42 a.m.
Want to track federal government waste and abuse? You could soon be able to do just that from the comfort ...

Want to track federal government waste and abuse? You could soon be able to do just that from the comfort of your home.

The U.S. House of Representatives recently approved U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner’s (D-Virginia) bipartisan legislation to standardize federal spending data and ensure it is made available online so Virginians can access information about how their tax dollars are being spent. The legislation will allow taxpayers and lawmakers to better track waste, fraud and abuse across all federal agencies.

The House passage of the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act (DATA), which follows unanimous Senate passage earlier in April, means the legislation now goes to the president to be signed into law.

The legislation would require federal agencies to account for every dollar they spend on a single website, in an easy-to-read format. Currently, federal spending data is not always readily available, and if it is, it may be in a format that is not very useful. The bipartisan DATA Act was cosponsored in the Senate by Ohio Republican Sen. Rob Portman, and the House companion was sponsored by California Republican Rep. Darrell Issa and Maryland Democratic Rep. Elijah Cummings.

The DATA Act has been hailed by Government Accountability Office Comptroller General Gene Dodaro as “the single biggest thing” Congress could do to identify wasteful federal spending, and the DATA Act has been called the most significant open-government initiative since the Freedom of Information Act of 1966.

“In the digital age, we should be able to search online to see how every grant, contract and disbursement is spent in a more connected and transparent way through the federal government” said Warner. “Independent watchdogs and transparency advocates have endorsed the DATA Act’s move toward greater transparency and open data. Our taxpayers deserve to see clear, accessible information about government spending, and this accountability will highlight and help us eliminate waste and fraud.”