Jeffrey Zients Mandates Improvements to USASpending.gov

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In an OMB memo released Tuesday, Federal Chief Performance Officer Jeffrey Zients mandated several improvements to USASpending.gov in accordance with a GAO report released March 12th.  The memo reads, “transparency is a cornerstone of an open government. This Administration is committed to making federal expenditures of taxpayer dollars transparent to the public by providing readily accessible, complete, accurate, and usable federal spending data.”

CPO Zients explains, “A clear lesson from the Federal government’s experience with the Recovery.gov website is that, given the numerous stakeholders involved in the federal spending process and the complexity of underlying systems, all efforts to improve transparency must include thoughtful consideration of the costs and benefits of various implementation approaches.”

Here are the mandated changes described in the memo:

  • By October 1, 2010, Federal agencies must start reporting sub-award information pursuant to P.L.109-282 the Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act (Transparency Act) and provide a timeline for additional guidance to assist in meeting the goals established therein
  • Federal agencies must meet new requirements to maintain metrics on the quality and completeness of Federal spending data pursuant to the Transparency Act
  • Announcing the release of the new USAspending.gov website

The GAO’s recommendations for USAspending.gov are as follows:

  • OMB should develop and implement a specific plan for the collection and reporting of subaward data, including a time frame for including subaward data on USAspending.gov.
  • OMB should develop and implement a process to regularly ensure that all federal agencies report required award information to USAspending.gov and clarify (1) the requirement that award titles describe the award’s purpose; and (2) requirements for validating and documenting agency award data submitted by federal agencies.
  • USAspending.gov should include information on the city where work is performed.

Additionally, CPO Zients writes that OMB will be collecting additional public input to facilitate the improvements to USAspending.gov.  “In order to foster additional collaboration and partnership with the public, we will solicit input on current transparency initiatives, the challenges and burdens faced by stakeholders in increasing transparency, technical and logistical obstacles, and additional efforts to improve federal spending transparency.”

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