House strikes another blow for government transparency

The idea that government spending should be standardized and transparent? It might just be here to stay.

It certainly took a step in that direction when the House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly in favor of the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act.

First introduced in 2011, the DATA Act, as it’s known, would standardize the ways in which federal spending information is reported. It also would create an accurate and searchable online database that would let all Americans see how their government is spending their money.

In light of the government shutdown, the debt-ceiling debate, the Obamacare debacle, and the partisan stench that wafts through the D.C. air, isn’t it about time that someone was honest and transparent with us?

The House apparently thought so. It voted to pass the bill by a vote of 388-1. The lone dissenting vote belonged to Rep. Rush Holt Jr., D-NJ.

Next up is a vote in the Senate — though it won’t vote on the same bill as the House. Earlier this fall, the Senate’s Homeland Security and  Governmental Affairs Committee passed a version of the DATA Act that stripped out a key government-wide accountability measure that leaves the House and Senate versions of the bill differing considerably.

In other words, once the full Senate votes on its version, the two chambers will have to reconcile the different versions of the bill before voting to pass the final version.

Long story short: We’re not there yet … but we can see it coming.

In the interest of full disclosure, the MACPA fully supports both the DATA Act and the work of its sponsoring Data Transparency Coalition. We are a continuing member of the coalition.

Check out this terrific explanation of what the DATA Act does:


Bill Sheridan